The Matipo St community garden provides not only food but a place for people to learn and grow, Trustpower community advisor Alice Boyd says.

It was set up by the Matipo Community Development Charitable Trust, which won the supreme award for the Whanganui District at this year's Trustpower Community Awards on September 25.

The garden is in one of Whanganui's most low income areas. It has become a hub for the wider community to harvest healthy food. People from all walks of life go there to engage with the horticulture students, pick vegetables and watch the place evolve.

"They have transformed their community and are promoting positive change," Boyd said.


The garden now has a greenhouse, fruit trees and beehives, in an area that was once a swampy wasteland. The trust was started by Craig Rippon, a Black Power leader who was murdered in 2015.

He wanted more education and job opportunities for youth. Through the trust young people have trained in horticulture and carpentry, and worked toward driver licences.

A state house has been used as a classroom and meeting place, and one of the trust's aims has been to get contracting jobs for its people.

The win gives it a certificate, a trophy and $2000. It will compete against other not-for-profit groups at Trustpower's national awards in Tauranga next March.

The other Whanganui voluntary groups up for judging were the River City Boxing Gym, the Men's Shed Wanganui Trust, Wanganui Budget Advisory Service and the Whanganui Māori Wardens Trust.

This year the awards were held in Palmerston North and covered the Whanganui and Tararua districts, and Palmerston North city.

They were also for youth who volunteer. Whanganui's Trustpower Youth Community Spirit Award winner was Caitlin Gedye, who is an integral part of the SHINE Interact Club at Whanganui Girls' College. She organises working bees and fundraisers, and also helps out at Girl Guides and by coaching gymnastics.

Whanganui's Ronan Shaw was a finalist. He was congratulated for his passion and talent in performing arts and his involvement with the Repertory Theatre.