Mental health takes the front seat in Takapuna

Publish Date : 01 Feb 2024
Chatterbox OA
Photo courtesy of
Chatterbox 2
The new Chatterbox seat in Takapuna's Waiwharariki Anzac Square is the second ever in Auckland.
Chatterbox 1
The new Chatterbox seat in Takapuna's Waiwharariki Anzac Square is the second ever in Auckland.

A new seat in Takapuna’s Waiwharariki Anzac Square is helping people to talk about their mental health.

Installed with funding from the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, the eye-catching seat is the second in the Chatterbox initiative that encourages people to take a moment to sit and talk to each other about mental health openly.

It includes signage with contact details for trained mental health counsellors and, with each seat installed, Chatterbox partner Urban Effects also funds free youth counselling sessions through the mental health initiative I am Hope.

Chatterbox was established in 2022 by Mount Eden local Emily Turnbull, who worked with the Albert-Eden Local Board to create the first Chatterbox seat in Point Chevalier to “enable and normalise a culture of open chat, connection and support to help strengthen our mental health and wellbeing” after the suicide of her husband in 2019.  

Inspired by Turnbull’s story following the suicide of her own husband in 2021, Takapuna resident Claudia Schmidt contacted Devonport-Takapuna Local Board deputy chair Terence Harpur in early 2023 and he became a keen advocate for Takapuna getting its own Chatterbox seat.

“I think Chatterbox is such a beautiful and meaningful project, “says Ms Schmidt. “My husband and I lived in Takapuna together, and I continue to live here with our three boys. To have a memorial for my husband in an area that has been our home for years means the world to us, with the bonus of creating a place to encourage people to sit and talk and ultimately help prevent further suicides.” 

The board approved funding for the project and its location in Waiwharariki Anzac Square in late 2023, with council staff installing it this January.

“As we take the time to reflect on the devastating Auckland anniversary weather events of 2023, we are reminded of the great need in the community that persists. Hopefully, this small act of inviting conversation is all that might be needed for some,” says Local Board chair Toni van Tonder.

If you think your community would benefit from its own Chatterbox, contact your local board.
Find out more about the Chatterbox initiative at their website.

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