Without trying to sound too much like a Hallmark greeting card, Hibiscus Coast Kindy is a place that’s really close to my heart. Located in my home town, Orewa, the kindy provides early childhood services to over 60 local families and has been a place of learning for many, many other people in the area over the past few decades. In fact, the HBC Kindy is the very kindy that I attended and, in later years when my brother was kindy aged, the same place where I volunteered at kiddy discos and bike-a-thons. The Head Teacher (and my old Kindy teacher), Chris, is a wonderful woman and she was more than happy to let the Clarion Tour loose on the kindy grounds prior to the beginning to the term, and we were all really psyched to get going on our first official Clarion project.
Over the years, through some dedicated volunteers that sit on the Kindergarten committee, the kindy has managed to upgrade its facilities both inside and out. Even when I attended the kindy back in the early 90s, the space was rather small, so as the local population (and, subsequently, the Kindy roll) increased, the Kindy had to find ways to raise money to be able to accomodate all of the children in the area (Chris told us today that at one stage she had up to 45 children per session). Thanks to countless raffles and fundraisers (something the Labour party knows a lot about!!), the Kindy managed to raise the funds to expand a few years ago, and the place is looking great!
In the afternoon we split up into different groups and, accompanied by local MPs Carmel Sepuloni and Lynne Pillay, got stuck in all around the Waitakere electorate. People helped out at the Walsh Trust, the Ranui Action Project, Henderson Riding for the Disabled and at the Glen Eden shops.
The Walsh Trust offers a range of mental health support services to around 300 people who experience mental ill health. Ella and Eric spent the afternoon pulling boxes of old files out of their attic space. Files dating back to the early 90s were well overdue to be destroyed. Hot, cramped work space and heavy lifting might have been the short straw were it not for the rain that other groups had to work in. The Walsh Trust has recently had funding cut to an excellent work skills training programme. The people working there expressed how it was really sad to see National take it’s axe to an organisation dedicated to front line mental health support, something New Zealanders desperately need more of.
It is becoming clear that this tour will consist of a few daily trends, including late nights and early mornings.
We had a good chat with Phil over breakfast this morning about his upcoming state of the nation speech next week. You can find details on that Auckland speech HERE. He’ll outline his priorities for the election campaign and his vision for New Zealand.
After that, we went to the Glen Innes Family Centre to prepare items for the food packs they distribute to the community. Many families in the Glen Innes area rely on the food parcels and social services provided by the centre. Chris and the team were really welcoming and clearly do a good job for their community.
After a fun night of Sing Star – during which Sue Moroney showed us how it is done – Young Labour members woke up and spread out to help Sue in her local Hamilton area. At the Western Community Centre – which runs a number of community programmes and provides spaces for community groups and sports teams. For example the centre offers budgeting advice, school holiday programmes and a public nurse. We broke into teams helpings to paint a worn fence, to clean some graffiti on the windows, and to cut, laminate and put up some signs. We created a new brown colour by combining the odd brown pots of paint to ensure a consistent coloured fence. A reporter from the Waikato Times took some quick pictures and as he left we amused ourselves coming up with bad puns for captions and twitter updates to describe the work we were doing. We soon also had the hit song and YouTube clip “Thank You, Please” stuck in our heads once we realised that Neil, the manger of the Western Community Centre, was a member of the children’s music band “Funky Monkeys”.
Today we bent the rules of our community service tour by turning out to help Labour Party President and New Plymouth candidate Andrew Little paint his lovely campaign office red. His newly painted office looks to be a great addition to his campaign. Many of had already brushed up on our painting skills at the Western Community Centre in Hamilton, making this task a logical development on our earlier efforts. Our local hosts put on an amazing lunch for us which we shared with the linesmen working in front of the office. Following our great stay in New Plymouth we were reluctant to leave. State Highway 45 the ‘Surf Highway’ beckoned us to Whanganui via an obligatory cricket stop at Opunake Beach. We’ve just arrived in Whanganui ready for another busy day of community service tomorrow.
Posing after our bush walk through Bushy Park
The Clarionites had a very entertaining night in Whanganui with local Labour candidate and city councillor Hamish McDoull. After playing an energetic game of backyard football and reading his son a copy of Bad Jelly the Witch (with voices and all), we all had a good nights sleep. The next morning, we woke early and headed about 15km north of Whanganui city to do some weeding and track clearing at Bushy Park.
Bushy Park is a charitable trust which runs a historic homestead built on what remained of a nineteenth century family farm. The entire remaining property is around 39 acres, of which about 30 are covered in native bush. In 2003 a predator-proof fence was build around the area and since then the area has filled with native birds such as Kereru (which we saw) and North Island Robins. The trust relies entirely on outside funding and it’s annual fundraising festival, which is coming up this very Sunday, is a must for those in the Whanganui area.
Packing up the tent at Darren Hughes place
Thus far on the Clarion Tour, our brave young Clarionites have done everything from scaling scaffolding to tackling prickly plants with the greatest of ease. Last night though, we were to face our greatest challenge yet: the construction of a family sized tent in the field in front of the house belonging to none other than the Hon. Darren Hughes. Tent building, us city kids discovered, is actually hard work but thankfully sustenance came in the form of fish and chips from the local chippy courtesy of Darren. In the end, thanks mostly to the mad tent erecting skills of Eric and Shona, we eventually had somewhere to sleep for Friday evening. Our success was rewarded with some casual drinks (yes, everyone on this leg of the tour was over 18, don’t you worry) with Darren, after which we all squished in the tent and readied ourselves for what was to be a rather windy night in the great farmlands of Levin.
Working hard to restore Bell's Track in the rain
Following a successful quiz for the Clarion Tour team “Horse!”, Young Labour members woke to the ominous pitter-patter of rain hitting the roof. On the agenda for the day was helping the Rainbow Gardeners on Bell’s Track at Mt Kaukau to restore the walking track.
Getting a photo in front of the carrot and beetroot patch
Young Labour members woke this morning to warm sun and beautiful day. With many clothes still wet and dirty from the rain and track clearing in Wellington, it was a perfect opportunity to leave some clothes to be washed and dried as were out and about. With what we thought was plenty of time we headed for Motueka Community Gardens… but there was a problem…. we had the wrong address.
Arriving at House 44
After a relaxing night with members of the Nelson LEC who had kindly welcomed us in to their homes, we were ready for a Tuesday full of community service, driving, and learning about the origins of the Labour movement and Labour Party.
Some of the rubbish we collected in the mostly clean town of Hokitika
There’s nothing quite like waking up to the sound of tui, traipsing downstairs to a breakfast surrounded by a menagerie of union and mining regalia, and joining working class heros; old and young, for a bit of kai. As Michael Joseph Savage and David Lange looked on; the Clarion Tour team shared a meal at the famous Formerly Hilton Hotel, in Blackball. The small town is not only the birthplace of the modern labour movement, but still remains at the heart of mining projects on the West Coast, just five minutes from the Pike River Coal mine.
Cleaning the Plunket toys
After a quiet night in Queenstown amongst amazing views of lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, we began our morning in Arrowtown with baked goods and a loose dog. Noticing the dogs evident lack of street smarts, we dropped it in to the local vet. It turned out Penny the Cocker Spaniel was making a habit of running away from home and going for a swim.
Shona scrapes of the old paint
After a night with local Labour friends, we woke up to the last day of the Young Labour Clarion Tour. The sun was out again as we headed from a quick breakfast to the Riccartion Community Trust.