Members of Papakura’s Tongan community will be spending a lot of time gardening after two groups were granted licences to occupy Keri Downs Park.
The Otu Motu Anga’ofa Society and Umataha Tongan Community Association have been growing vegetables they distribute to the community for many years on the plot of land.
Licences to occupy can be granted for use of council land that has no fixed assets on it.
Board chair Brent Catchpole says the land is 4800 square metres, with the two groups getting roughly half each.
“The area is fenced off to prevent damage to the gardens and it hasn’t been particularly well-used in the past.
“Papakura’s ‘Tongan Gardens’ are well-known in the town for putting food on the tables of the families that work the land, and the wider community, particularly widows, older residents and low-income families.
“I use the excuse that I’m too busy as the board chair to do much gardening, but what they grow up there has to be seen to be believed. When board members visited, they were harvesting potatoes, kumara, taro, spinach, corn, silver beet, cabbages…you name it.
“We think it’s a great use of a bit of land attached to a park that would not otherwise be of much value.”