Call for ideas to activate community space

The Howick War Memorial is owned by Auckland Council and managed as a venue for hire. Times photo Wayne Martin

Organisations are invited to share their ideas on how they could get the most from an historic east Auckland community facility.

Expressions of interest are now open to activate the Howick War Memorial at 91 Picton Street, which was formerly known as the Howick Information Centre.

The Howick Local Board, which is behind the initiative, says the facility has been well used by locals since 1975.

The Auckland Council-owned building is managed as a venue for hire.

Board chairperson Adele White says the board is looking to “activate” the space as a community hub that provides opportunities for arts and recreation, events, programmes, and interest-based groups or activities.

It’s important for the board to ensure the facility continues to operate and offers a welcoming space, she says.

“The financial impacts of Covid-19 affected the operations of this facility and several others around Auckland last year, causing temporary closures and much anxiety among the community.

“We know how important this facility is for them, given its historical value, and we wanted it to stay with them.

“Our goal is for this space to respond to the community’s needs more efficiently and become a place where locals can connect, socialise, learn and participate in a wide range of social, cultural, art and recreational activities.”

The 275 sq m building has one large central space, kitchen facilities, a single disability toilet and two small offices.

During the first half of 2020 the building closed along with most other council facilities when the country went into a Covid-19 lockdown.

The Times reported in June last year that locals were concerned when it did not reopen following the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

A council spokesperson said at the time: “Now we are in Alert Level 1, we’re working hard to get our facilities up and running as quickly as possible so that Aucklanders can enjoy them again.

“We recently met with the Howick Local Board to discuss the reopening of community venues within the area.

“However, the lockdown period has presented staffing challenges that limit our pace of reopening.”

The expression of interest process invites organisations to propose opportunities to activate the facility through either managing access to it through a contract for service, or delivering services through a community lease, as suited to the venue and location.

For more information, email project lead Jan Brown at communityeoi@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz before 10pm on October 1.