A garden of memories

By Alexandra Newlove

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Santana Manuel (right) leaves a message in memory of her brother while Community Healing Garden organiser Ren Haskell looks on. Photo / John Stone
Santana Manuel (right) leaves a message in memory of her brother while Community Healing Garden organiser Ren Haskell looks on. Photo / John Stone

You've probably walked past this Whangarei garden - possibly not realising it is a place where those affected by suicide can muck in, share stories and plant shrubs commemorating their loved ones.

The Community Healing Garden on Water St started three years ago with project driver Ren Haskell organising meet-ups to maintain it about once a month.

On Saturday, to mark the beginning of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, several families gathered at the garden and scrawled affirmations and memories on the wall of the Hare Krishna Food For Life building as well as on the silk scarves which hung around the garden.

"People have talked about how neat it is to have somewhere right in the middle of town where they can come and talk to their loved one," Ms Haskell, a businesswoman and Food For Life volunteer, said.

The event also commemorated 25-year-old Northland woman Sarah Higgins, who died in a suspected suicide the previous weekend.

"The community healing garden started a few years back. It belongs to the regional council but also Food for Life - it always looked yucky and horrible," Ms Haskell said.

"I offered to tidy it up and make it flourish and get better energy in the area. Also around that time there were quite a few suspected suicides in high schools in Northland."

Find "B - Free Community Healing Garden - Whangarei" on Facebook to learn more.

- Northern Advocate

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