Kāore i te mārama? Patai Te Pou Whakawhirinaki o Grey Lynn Ponsonby

Not sure? Ask the helpful team @CAB Grey Lynn Ponsonby

Fifty years ago, minus a couple of months, CAB Ngā Pou Whakawhirinaki o Aotearoa began life in this country. The very first branch opened here in Ponsonby, Auckland in October 1970 at the brand-new Community Centre in Ponsonby. It was followed quickly by the opening of a number of other branches in Auckland and around the country.

Our branch moved into the then new Grey Lynn Community Centre in the late 1990s after the fire that burned down the Ponsonby Community Centre.

As you may know the CAB’s origins are in pre-WW2 Britain where it began assisting people to cope with the anticipated dislocation and trauma of war. The model has been used as a basis for CABs in several countries around the world.

Here in the inner-city suburbs of Ponsonby, Freemans Bay and Grey Lynn in the 1970s, there were several social issues, including housing shortages and quality, in particular as the area had attracted large numbers of migrants to the city both from the Pacific and rural New Zealand. These issues were compounded by the fact the Council had begun a policy of urban renewal which saw entire streets eliminated and motorway construction had a similar effect.

According to one of the key figures in their (CABs’) establishment, Peter Harwood, the obvious reason for their previous absence related to size. Any small community, he wrote in 1974, already had sources of information and referral through the local policeman, postman, clergy, doctor or headmaster. The growth of cities and increase in centralised social services, however, meant that more and more people were lost, lonely, bewildered and uncertain of their rights and responsibilities.

Since the opening of that first branch, CAB has grown to be an essential part of New Zealand’s social infrastructure. This has only been possible because of the commitment and dedication of thousands of volunteers over the past five decades. Just recently at our CAB Auckland City AGM, we recognised the service of some of our long serving volunteers at our nine branches. Two have volunteered for more than 40 years, one for 35 years and several for more than 20 years.

We celebrated this 50th milestone at a special morning tea in Auckland. Our guest speaker was the Right Honourable Dame Helen Winkelmann, the Chief Justice of the High Court, who is known for her support for access to justice for all citizens. Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff also came along to talk to us. The CABs in the whole Auckland region (more than 30 branches) are very grateful for the generous support of Auckland Council.
With more than 80 branches around the country now, we have a lot to celebrate but in reality, we have not moved at all from our original purpose as stated by Peter Harwood in the quote above.
It’s that busy time again coming up and it can be a stressful time for many people, struggling to deal with end of year work stress, Christmas gatherings, present buying, holiday planning and the financial obligations this can bring.

Then there are those people who face holiday time with no family nearby.

We can lend an ear when any of those stressors might begin to overwhelm. You can call us on the phone, or contact us via email or our website by using live chat or sending a message, and we are here for you to come and see us in person.

We take the time to listen, and aim to ensure that you get the information you need – whether it’s about your rights in a particular situation or to find a specific service.

From CAB Grey Lynn Ponsonby we wish you and yours all the best for the festive season - Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hau.

1 and 2 - For Your Information, A History of Citizens Advice Bureaux in New Zealand, Ian Dougherty, 1998, Dunmore Press Ltd

Lesley Bradley, manager of Citizens Advice Bureau, Auckland, Grey Lynn/Ponsonby Branch., 510 Richmond Road, 09 376 0392; www.ponsonby@cab.org.nz