Many of the projects achieved during the 2022 – 2023 year were positioned to lay a solid foundation for Visionwest’s future; a future which sees us continuing to proactively support the whānau we serve while ensuring we look after our staff and volunteers with appropriate work environments. With that in mind, the theme of this Annual Report is A Future Founded on Hope.
As I reflect on our year, this future planning sits at the forefront and I want to comment on the exciting things we have achieved so far. First, however, I must mention Visionwest’s response to Tāmaki Makaurau’s disastrous weather events – the Auckland Anniversary Weekend flooding on 27 January and Cyclone Gabrielle two weeks later.
Visionwest’s Flood Response
Looking back on those weather events and the months that have followed, two things stick out for me. The first is the speed and the expertise with which our Visionwest teams responded to those in urgent need. The rain was still falling as our Community Housing team went about contacting every Visionwest housing client to check on their wellbeing and the condition of their home. Meanwhile, our Community Connectors (part of our Huia Mai team) and Whai Manaaki Kai team were playing an integral role in establishing and supporting a safe and dry place where those displaced could find shelter, food, and manaakitanga. In the following few hours, an Emergency Flood Response team was created so that, in the days immediately following the floods, most of our Auckland Visionwest staff were involved in some way, putting in long hours and a huge effort to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those affected.
The second thing I witnessed was the power for good that is generated when a community unites to achieve a common purpose. From day one of the flood response, West Auckland support organisations came together, each one focusing on their strengths and allowing others to do the same; each one recognising that no one group could answer the need on their own. It is most fitting that the byline for the Visionwest Flood and Cyclone Response Report is, “It takes a community to help a community.”
It is now quite a few months since the flood events and our flood response work continues and will do so for as long as it is required.
A Future Founded on Hope
In the past 12 months, much has happened in terms of future planning. Some of these future-focused projects have been achieved, others are in the development stage. In this report, I would like to comment on:
• Visionwest’s ongoing commitment to being a Treaty-centric organisation.
• The development of new workspaces for both our whānau and our staff team.
• The proposed development of the Glendale Road site.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi – As a trust we continue to seek to be a partner to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and grow in all that that means. This includes continuing our strategic focus on Kaupapa Māori service delivery, particularly through the growth of Huia Mai and the support services it encompasses. Amidst this development of Māori-focused service delivery, we recognise that support services meeting the needs of Māori will meet the needs of all.
Through this Te Tiriti focus we have seen the proactive and positive growth of Huia Mai, our Māori based whānau services. Animoa has continued to facilitate our Ako Reka Te Tiriti o Waitangi workshop which teaches the story of Te Tiriti and Aotearoa New Zealand from a Māori perspective and focuses on how we can respond to some of the challenges our nation currently faces. Over 150 staff have so far completed the workshop.
New workspaces – A number of new workspaces have been created. Some of these are for staff and provide offices that are more conducive to working collaboratively than our previous collection of disconnected buildings.
These new workspaces include:
• Koru Paihere – located in Glengarry Road, Glen Eden, this office building houses around 130 members of our administration support teams. Those working at Koru Paihere have spoken of how positive they feel working in such a pleasant work environment and how wonderful it is to be close to one another rather than spread across separate offices as was the case previously.
• Waitaha Canterbury Housing – we have always valued our relationship with Oxford Terrace Baptist Church (OTBC). In May 2023, our Waitaha Canterbury team moved into new offices located behind, and owned by, OTBC. These new offices will provide more space and a great office environment for the team. The project also includes several units which will be used as social housing – seven of these will be managed by Visionwest Community Housing Canterbury.
• Home Healthcare – we are currently seeking new offices for both the Hamilton and Rotorua branches.
Not all our new spaces have been for offices. New areas for service delivery have also been developed, particularly for Whai Manaaki Kai, our food support service. The opening of Whata Manaaki, a warehouse for storing and packing kai for our food support facilities, has resulted in greater efficiency and effectiveness of the service we provide to our community and a pleasant workspace for those who work there.
In June 2023, Manaaki Kai, our social supermarket was officially opened. Manaaki Kai provides food support in a way that preserves the dignity and mana of those who are struggling to put food on the table for their whānau. Is has been incredibly exciting to see this new way of supporting whānau with food and witness the enthusiasm of those shopping there.
Glendale Road Campus Development – Plans to develop the Glendale Road site are well underway and will be released in detail in the coming months. The development will include spaces for most of the Trust’s support services and enable them to engage with whānau in an effective and mana-enhancing way.
Recognising the ongoing need for housing in our local area and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, the Glendale Road development will deliver 23 apartments to be used as social housing. We feel this is a positive way to utilise the land at Glendale Road, particularly because a Community Hub is also planned. This will enable those who live on-site and others in the local communities to connect with one another and have easy access to vital support services.
The move of staff to Koru Paihere has released space on the Glendale Road site and will enable this exciting redevelopment to occur in stages over coming years. Further details relating to the campus development can be found in the centre pages of this report.
The Future for Housing
The ongoing demand for housing is an area of concern and priority for Visionwest. With that in mind, we are currently working on projects related to youth housing and exploring support for the provision of housing in other areas of the country where there is high need and where we have existing relationships. We look forward to developing these partnerships in the coming year to support whānau in need of safe and affordable housing. We are including social housing in our planned Glendale Road development.
The Ongoing Need
In a year of huge change, one thing has remained constant – the incredible need faced by so many in our local communities. As the statistics in this report show, in almost every area of service delivery the demand has been greater than in any previous year. In Tāmaki Makaurau this is only partly attributable to the extreme weather events. The rapid rise in the cost-of-living has affected all of us with staff noting that many people have been pushed into poverty for the first time in their lives. It’s important that, in the middle of our planning for the future, we remember those who have a very real need for support today.
Words of Thanks
In closing, I want to acknowledge and thank Glen Eden Baptist Church for their continuing support which is given in so many practical ways; and I want to again thank all those who make up the Visionwest Waka Whakakitenga Board of Trustees and staff teams around Aotearoa New Zealand. You all give so selflessly of your gifts and talents, and, because of this, lives and communities continue to be transformed.
To those of you who so faithfully support the work of Visionwest, thank you also. Please be sure to read some of the stories included at the back of this report – stories of whānau whose lives have been transformed thanks to your generosity and to their journey with Visionwest Waka Whakakitenga.
Ngā mihi mahana,
Lisa Woolley, CEO