Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Pride of NZ: $1.05m gives lift out West

Rob and Zee Luisi are co-founders of Ranui 135.
Rob and Zee Luisi are co-founders of Ranui 135.

Rob and Zee Luisi have more reason to be optimistic about giving young people in Ranui a chance a day after appearing in the Herald's Pride of New Zealand awards.

After the Luisis were nominated in the Community Spirit category as founders of Ranui 135, a group that helps young people in the local and wider West Auckland area, Auckland councillors yesterday made $1.05 million available to five community facilities in the area.

In a community rocked by four violent deaths in the past month, including the stabbing of Henderson dairy owner Arun Kumar, councillors put aside financial restraints to complete the facilities.

The finance and performance committee voted unanimously to reallocate $1.05 million from the budget for a community house in West Harbour to complete community hubs at Glendene and West Harbour, redevelop the Ranui community house, fit out the Te Atatu community centre and for streetscape work at the new Ranui library.

This was after a warning from council officers that they are aiming to reduce or defer $300 million of capital spending this year and cut a further $800 million next year - although that will still not be enough to achieve a budgeted 4.9 per cent rates increase, let alone limit a rates rise to a maximum of 2.5 per cent as promised by Mayor Len Brown.

Last night, Mr Luisi said anything that increased the capacity of facilities serving the community was a step in the right direction.

"Any investment that Auckland Council makes in West Auckland is really appreciated. One of the concerns about the Super City was that we might get a little bit forgotten."

Mr Luisi said some of the recent social issues were extreme examples, but indicators of what needs were.

"It's about a sense of pride. If those kind of emotional aspects are sorted it goes a long way to sorting some of the preventable deaths we have had in the last month," he said.

Henderson-Massey Local Board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson said without the facilities there would be no after-school programmes, no holiday programmes and constraints on early childhood education in areas of high deprivation.

"We have to provide these services to be the ambulance at the top of the cliff," she said.

- NZ Herald

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