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Generosity alive and well in Marfell

Kuvarji, Community Co-ordinator, Marfell Community Trust
Kuvarji, Community Co-ordinator, Marfell Community Trust

For over 20 years, Marfell Community Trust has worked alongside its community to support and empower local people.

The Marfell Community Trust was established in 1997, following the gifting of a house in Cook St, as a community meeting place and a base to provide services for those in need.

Sister Teresa Casey, a religious nun and original board member, had been actively working in Marfell along with supporters.

The Trust’s vibrant co-ordinator Kuvarji, fondly recalls the nuns.

“They were huge in Marfell. As a kid I remember events they’d organise like Christmas dinners and carols. Cook ups were held and they would take the food out to the people.”

Over the years the Trust has faced challenges and has kept on going.

Originally set up as the Marfell Combined Culture Trust, it has since moved base to Koru House at Marfell Community School and updated its name.

“The main whakaaro (idea) around gifting the house was to help people help themselves. That’s still what we’re about today.

We have such amazing volunteers in Marfell. So many people have put in hard work over the years,” says Kuvarji.

The Trust and community work together to deliver or assist an impressive array of activities.

These include computers in homes, a driver licencing programme, swap stops, youth and women’s groups, adult education, and after-school learning.

Whanau can access supplies such as food and clothing when needed, through an ‘aroha cupboard’ for donated goods.

Computers in homes is a whanau learning programme tutored by the Trust Chair, Ray Tucker. Students learn ICT skills relevant to their everyday lives, via a virtual classroom and tutorials held in the whanau room at the school.

“Participants develop their own course objectives. They put the energy in and they gain a certificate,” says Ray. “Their pride is amazing,” says Kuvarji.

The Trust’s innovative driver licencing programme is backed by Roadsafe Taranaki and other donors and volunteers. Open to people of all ages, rather than simply offering driving lessons, it includes a vehicle safe payment plan that helps drivers to manage registration and warrant costs and keep whanau safe on the roads.

The Trust is currently looking for more driver tutors. People interested can contact marfellcommunitytrust@xtra.co.nz

The original house has been rented out for several years now and provides a useful financial return to support the Trust’s work.

“Without the income from the house and local support we wouldn’t be able to deliver the things we do. It helps with operational and contingency costs, the in-between times, like mileage for the bread run and printing,” says Kuvarji.

The house is currently being renovated with the support of a $50,000 Capital Grant from TSB Community Trust. “They helped every step of the way. It’s not just about the funding, it’s the whole process. It’s not every day you apply for a Capital Grant.”