Supporting the Community

whakamanawa- to encourage and give confidence

Working with the community is a big part of what we do here at Wai0-ora. As a result, we have various community programs where we help people become involved in meaningful activities. These activities strengthen connections between individuals and the larger community. Some activities we provide are working opportunities, social events and time to focus on well being.

Landscape Maintenance Teams

Community VolunteersOur Community Works Team is made up of volunteers who struggle to otherwise find a workplace environment or somewhere to be involved in meaningful activities due to various challenges and disabilities. Our Community Works Supervisor leads the team who volunteer alongside park rangers. The team helps with a variety of tasks from mulching, weeding, drain clearing, planting and even helping maintain tracks and walkways throughout the city.
From the Groynes, Halswell Quarry, Travis wetlands and the local beaches this team of amazing volunteers work towards ensuring the public enjoy our city parks and reserves. Being a part of this team helps enhance social interaction, teamwork, self-esteem, work ethic and community involvement. These can be difficult to find when faced with some of the issues our volunteers face every day. They volunteer up to 4 days a week in and around the Christchurch City Council parks and reserves.
Our Gardens Team is a small but dedicated team of volunteers most of whom have historically been isolated in the community due to intellectual or mental health challenges.
Due to this team’s special character, they predominantly have set tasks for property maintenance at our Watson’s Road location. They are responsible for helping maintain community gardens as well as supporting our groundsmen with property maintenance. Most of the volunteers on this team stay with us for long periods. They come to feel part of the whānau. We value all of our volunteers for the part they play in the Wai-ora community.

Wai-ora Wednesdays

For the past 18 years our Trust Manager’s wife Cindy (seen here with daughter Melody) has prepared and cooked the lunch from their home each Tuesday night and brought it to the Trust on Wednesday mornings where she finishes it off for everyone to enjoy.

Since 1981 when Wai-ora was founded, Wednesdays have been Community Lunch day. In the early days, this consisted of saveloys on bread or a boil-up of pork bones and watercress. 40 years on and we continue the Wednesday community lunch tradition. Thanks to this tradition, Wednesday is a busy day at Wai-ora. Our Gardens Team works on a Wednesday and the Fitness Centre is also busy. In the Morning, Trust staff collect and distribute food to the community. Staff from the nursery often join with all these people at the Trust for kai.
Scraping together donations of venison and fish, today’s lunches are a bit fancier than saveloys on bread. Cindy is a talented and frugal cook,  who cooks shepherd’s pie, bbq burgers, as well as fish and chicken curries. This is a true community event with dessert provided by those that attend. It’s a great time for staff, volunteers, community groups and often sponsors and supporters of Wai-ora to enjoy kai together.
The diversity of people enhances these lunches. It’s not uncommon for people with disabilities, those transitioning from prison, Wai-ora staff and business leaders to be sharing food and life experiences.

 Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health

Fitness Centre

Like all our social and community services there is no charge to attend the fitness centre and we have a wonderful volunteer who runs 45-minute sessions with up to 8 members at a time.

The fitness centre is primarily a place to build physical well-being. However, self-esteem, a sense of belonging and a connection with Wai-ora are additional benefits that members enjoy. Our small on-site Fitness Centre hosts small groups from residential homes, mental health community groups and reintegration services.
Physical well being is also a large component of our Faith-Based Christian Camps. We run these outdoors through the summer at our Kaikōura farm. The weekend camps have a Christian and outdoor theme to them. We encourage attendees to see God’s beauty through the sounds, smells and sights on the farm. This enriches our connection to our faith and whenua (land). We also enjoy a bunch of activities from clay bird and target shooting to snorkelling, fishing, and hiking.
There are camps run for Men, Women, Mothers and daughters, and Fathers and sons. It is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to build relationships away from the distractions of day-to-day life and technology. The camps have proven a popular opportunity for fathers to bond with their sons and mothers with their daughters. Likewise, we find that both the men’s and women’s camps have offered the opportunity to be open about the challenges that we all face in life. Here, people develop long-term support networks.


Whanaungatanga underpins the social organisation of whānau, hapū, and iwi, and includes rights and reciprocal obligations consistent with being part of a collective. It is the principle that binds individuals to the wider group and affirms the value of the collective. Our Whanaungatanga are an opportunity for people from all walks of life to share kai, conversation and laughter. This is an opportunity for everyone from our greater community to join in.

Gatherings are held on weekends. They involve a shared meal, activities like a games night or bonfire a church service or fireworks night. Whether you have been involved in Wai-ora for decades or have just found out about us, join us. Gatherings are advertised on our Facebook page.


Community Gardens

Our community gardens are another way we support the community. Over the years we have seen youth groups, immigrants and migrant services, schools, rest homes, disability services, Māori  and Pasifika groups as well as prisoner integration programmes working alongside each other in our community gardens.
Our community gardens are allotment style, unlike most community gardens. Groups each have their own garden.
Thanks to donations from our Zealandia Horticulture we can supply seedlings to community gardens groups. We also provide all the tools required to successfully grow healthy vegetables. Over the past 3 years, we have reduced the size of our community gardens. However, we still have several groups that continue to grow vegetables for their communities.
Contact us if you would like a plot, or would like to volunteer as a community gardens mentor. We would love to hear from you.

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