Bringing life back to South Auckland's town centres

September 5, 2022

Bringing life back to South Auckland's town centres

Mangere-Otāhuhu Local Board members at the Māngere Town Centre. Photo: supplied

New community grants of up to $50,000 in South Auckland will help brighten up the area's fading town centres.

The Māngere-Otāhuhu Local Board last week announced a new grant for community groups which will support activities in the Māngere-Otāhuhu town centres. Its grants will be up to $30,000.

A similar grant being offered via the Ōtara-Paptoetoe Local Board may be up to $50,000.

The usual busyness has been missing from the town centres, courtesy of the pandemic and resulting economic challenges.

In an attempt to revive the centres in the Māngere-Otāhuhu area, the Revitalising Town Centre Programme will fund local initiatives and events that increase economic activity and contribute towards building community engagement.

The new grant will support local community groups, business associations and social enterprises which intend to use the local hubs.

The fund is part of a legacy fund that existed under the Manukau City Council.

In the days before the super-city, the South Harbour district comprised the Māngere town centre, Māngere East and Māngere Bridge Village.

Local board chair Tauanu’u Nanai Nick Bakulich says despite the establishment of the new grant, changes to local town centres can be a lengthy process for local boards.

“The misconception is that this grant is a fund for infrastructural change. It’s not.

“Māngere Town Centre is privately owned by a number of different governing bodies which makes it difficult for councils to get them to commit to upgrades.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in our town centres but we’re always looking for ways to attract the investments we need for community projects.”

The programme aims to build capacity and empowerment in the community.

“As a local board, we strongly advocated for this grant because the council have so many other things to fund.

“We’ve pushed for it to be contestable which will mean that funds are not automatically given to business associations. I hope this allows creative business thinkers the opportunity to consider putting a submission in,” says Bakulich.

Otāhuhu Town Manager Rochette Rodger says she is hopeful the programme will provide town centres with the widespread revival they need.

“We have some really vibrant shops and a really fun community, but since the pandemic, it’s just become a bit of a concrete jungle.

“Quite often business associations, especially those that cover town centres, are the only group that are left to do these kinds of projects. It’s nice to hear there is other input.

“Partnerships are also very helpful in community projects. They can go a very long way.”

Local groups can apply before October 9. However, the project must align with Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board’s funding priorities.

More information is available on the Auckland Council website.