Photograph: WSP Opus

Photograph: WSP Opus


Our official entry into the Mitre 10 Community of the Year Awards

Mai i te pae maunga, raro ki te tai

Mai i te awa tonga, raro ki te awa raki

Tēnei te hapori awhi ai e Taratahi.

Whano whano, haramai te toki

Haumi ē, hui ē, tāiki ē!

From the peaks of our mountains, down to the coast

From Waiohine to the South, down to Waingawa to the North

This is our community; embraced by Taratahi.

It binds us, strengthens us, and we move forward together.

Celebrating Carterton

What makes Carterton so awesome? Ask anyone, and they’ll say it’s the community. We believe Carterton has a special vibe to it: new citizens are welcomed and included, people contribute to the community, and when someone has an idea, community members rally to support. 

One of our new residents, Marie-Claire Andrews, was recently quoted in North & South Magazine saying, “Everyone knows each other, they’re generous with their time, and they make things happen. When I immigrated to New Zealand, I thought, ‘This is the best country I could base myself in.’ Now Carterton is the best place in the best country.”

Our Town

Carterton is home to just over 9000 people in the beautiful Wairarapa region, with the majority living in the urban township. The Carterton District stretches from the Tararua Ranges, home to the stunning Waiohine Gorge, to the vast coastline of Te Wharau. At first glance, Carterton looks like a typical rural town — there are farm and building supplies in the CBD, a range of second-hand stores, and cafes with gumboots lined up at the door. But Carterton is also host to the region’s first modern Event’s Centre, a national award-winning bakery, art galleries, as well as regular markets and festivals.

The 2013 Census recorded Carterton’s growth at 16% — the fastest growing rural district in NZ. Five years later, Carterton is still experiencing high growth rates, which brings challenges and opportunities to the district. 

Our People

He aha te mea nui o Carterton? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the most important thing in Carterton? It’s the people, the people, the people. 

What makes Carterton so awesome? Ask anyone, and they’ll say it’s the community - although cronuts and creme brûlée doughnuts may rate very highly too. Carterton has 80 year old community members regularly volunteering, youth who pick up rubbish at the park, and help out in the community garden, and young mums who set up play-groups in rest homes. The list could go on and on, but we would like to take you on a journey and give you a quick a snapshot of the wonderful community we have in Carterton.

Keep Carterton Beautiful Group

With a minimum age of 70, the Keep Carterton Beautiful Group volunteers work tirelessly to lift the presentation of Carterton through numerous projects. The group was formed in 1990 by a small group of retirees who wanted to make Carterton a prettier place to live in. 

KCBG have planted thousands of daffodil bulbs throughout the Carterton district — Carterton is known as the Daffodil Capital and holds an annual Daffodil Festival in spring. You will often see them raking up the leaves at the Clareville Cemetery, weeding walkways, building and painting fences, pricking out seedlings, planting native shrubs, painting shopfronts as well as tidying up the entranceway to the Transfer Station, and always with a smiling and willing conversation. The Keep Carterton Beautiful Group works with the Carterton District Council to plant thousands of seeds per year for the town’s CBD gardens. 

Over the years they have fundraised for different projects, with money raised being distributed towards Sparks Park, Mt Dick platform, the Holloway Street Entrance and murals, and notably $10,000 towards the Carterton Events Centre. 

Rangatahi to Rangatira Carterton

Rangatahi to Rangatira Carterton is a youth organisation run by youth for youth. R2R aims to develop young people in Carterton through regular workshops, mentoring, weekend outings, and leadership training. All young people between 10 - 24 are welcome to attend. 

One of their outcomes is "to see young people more involved in the Carterton community, and more aware of political, social, and environmental changes that are happening.” Events are structured around the ideas that young people have, and are led by young leaders in the community. Past events include community murals, rubbish cleanups, environmentally focussed wananga, art exhibitions, and running Engaging with Youth workshops for those who want to understand more about working with youth people. R2R also contributes to community through the community garden, making Christmas parcels, and providing feedback to the Carterton District Council. 

Some of R2R’s young people face significant challenges, and R2R aims to keep these young people involved in positive activities, and mentored by community leaders. Young people feel proud to be involved in the planning of major events such as the Carterton Colour Run, and feel valued as members of the community. 

Marie-Claire Andrews

"Marie-Claire Andrews has created tech startups, run an event-app company, organised conferences and major events, been a business adviser and consultant, and founded Wellington’s angel-investment network. She calls herself “a driven, ambitious workaholic”, and travels regularly to Sydney, San Francisco and New York. In November 2017, she shifted to Carterton." — as featured in North & South Magazine. 

"When Marie-Claire moved to Carterton last November, she noticed a co-working space was “conspicuous by its absence. It was a surprise, as so many people work from home here…” Once unpacked and settled in, Marie-Claire met Carterton Mayor John Booth, who lives next door. 

“I mentioned how cool a co-working space would be in Carterton. John said, “Make it happen”.

That night, she put an advertisement on Neighbourly, asking for help with the new venture. Within a few weeks, the new 3Mile team had received sponsorship, funding from Carterton District Council, furniture from Nood in Wellington and a coffee machine from Upper Hutt collective Able Coffee. Carterton electrician Rob Stockley offered to help with the wiring and light fightings, while several other locals put their hands up to paint the inside of the building. 

“It was a great community effort. I think people do want to feel proud of this town,” Marie-Claire says." — as featured in Wairarapa Journal.

Marie-Claire writes...

"I'm delighted to support Carterton's application to be recognized as New Zealand's Community of the Year.  I moved here only 9 months ago, and have never known such a welcoming, supportive community in 20 years of living in NZ. 

The project I wanted to start was immediately supported by 20 volunteers from different age groups and interests, who never for a second suggested they needed paying or any recognition — and within 10 weeks together we'd opened a new business on the high street. 

Complete strangers bought into my idea, supported it with time, money and resources — unbelievable! Once the business was opened I was invited to provide input into council considerations of economic development — such a privilege to be brought into such important conversations but a reflection of the amazing integration of council and community we have here."

Resilient Carterton

Since its inception in 2015, Resilient Carterton have been working to build a more resilient community. Their goal is to create a resilient community that is highly connected, where people support and trust each other, are there for each other in times of needs, and are prepared for the unexpected. This group is run by volunteers. 

Some of the initiatives developed by Resilient Carterton include: showcasing sustainable homes throughout the district and educating others on how to make their home sustainable; food forest workshops; time banking; and screening films like ‘Living the Change’ and ‘Tomorrow’.

They have initiated Permablitz groups in Carterton where a group of people get together and help design and create each other's gardens. There is some education and design at first and then a number of working bees to put the plans into action. This is a fantastic way for newbies to get into home gardening and composting. 

Over the past 12months, Resilient Carterton have greatly boosted their contribution to the community by organising “Celebrate Carterton,” a social expo/festival that showcased the array of clubs, societies, service groups, charities and community groups in Carterton. There were performances, presentations, stalls, entertainment, and activities to participate in, and the event was highly successful.

One of Resilient Carterton’s strengths is being able to partner with a wide variety of community groups to organise events and projects. Their commitment to the community was demonstrated by being 1 of 5 organisations nationally to secure a Community Led Development Partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs. This is a two year partnership to engage with the community to identify shared issues and concerns, and generate local solutions. This is a significant opportunity for the Carterton community and required a huge amount of hard work by the volunteers. 

Hurunui-o-rangi Marae

Hurunui-o-Rangi Marae is a proud partnership that weaves itself throughout our community. Its influence is visible in our schools, council, youth groups, and environmental projects, and we are thankful for the marae’s community outlook. Hurunui-o-Rangi and Carterton District Council have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together. Marae members and local Iwi support the Council at Council and committee meetings, advising on cultural matters, tikanga Maori, as well as supporting civic and citizenship ceremonies with powhiri. The marae has also generously offered to provide te reo lessons for councillors, which will begin shortly. 

Hurunui-o-Rangi has also just finished building stage 1 of their new marae development, a papakainga — six houses for whanau to live next to the marae and support its further growth. 

The marae has named the new papakainga roadway Te Ara Takapau — the second exclusively te reo Maori road name in New Zealand. 

Ra Smith, Hurunui-o-Rangi Trust chairperson, writes: "Hurunui-o-Rangi is a part of Carterton District and our council stood by us and supported our roadway name. Our marae community did not think we were following a precedent, we wanted to respect our heritage.

The papakainga will also keep our marae warm with people. And we plan to rebuild our marae. For the thousands of descendants from this home base, this will be a place to learn about the layers of home. The future will have more exciting times than I can imagine.”

We look forward to the marae rebuild which will be an asset to the iwi and local community.

Lucy Adlam

Upon moving to Carterton, Lucy saw a need to connect mothers across the Wairarapa by establishing the Wairarapa Mums group. The group gives local mums a place to connect and support each other. This platform now has now grown to over 900 local young mums, providing advice and resources that are greatly needed. 

As well as Wairarapa Mums, Lucy also runs Intergenerational Playgroups across seven retirement homes in the Wairarapa. The playgroups, held in rest-homes, are a win-win situation — a great social development for the children, wonderful for the elderly and meaningful for the Wairarapa mums to meet each other and have this support network. 

The transformation of residents has been described as very moving. Having young babies and toddlers visiting on a regular basis provides them with special memories of their own childhoods and children. 

A visit from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been a highlight for the Intergenerational Playgroups. “I think to me, having the Prime Minister come, it just shows how amazing this country is to get behind community initiatives and empower people in the community. It means a huge amount,” Lucy Adlam said. 

Her efforts are huge, and greatly appreciate by many. And to top it all off, this wonderful woman is a busy mum of two!

Lucy writes...

“I moved to Carterton just over a year ago and I feel so thankful we discovered this hidden gem. Carterton has a huge sense of community and I have found it so easy to make friends and find outlets for my interests and passions. There are endless community-focused projects happening, with an emphasis on sustainability, inclusion, arts and community development.

I have created my own community initiative (Wairarapa Intergenerational Playgroups), which aims to alleviate loneliness in elderly. I've been amazed at the support I have received from my community here in Carterton. I have tried to start this initiative overseas and it didn't get anywhere near as much support. There is no where else in New Zealand I would rather be living, and truly appreciate how fantastic this town is.”

Haumanu Community Garden

The Carterton Community Garden is an example of community collaboration and effort. Originally started by Carterton's youth group Rangatahi to Rangatira (R2R), the Haumanu Community Garden is located at the Haumanu House Social Service Hub.

‘Haumanu’ meaning to ‘restore to health, rejuvenate, be therapeutic’ was developed in 2016 in response to barriers experienced by the Carterton community in accessing social support services.  These services are typically based in Masterton and the wider Wellington region, causing transport challenges for many of those needing help.  Providers at the Hub include counselling, budgeting, mental health, legal advice, neighbourhood support, victim support, food rescue, and food bank services. 

Spearheaded by R2R, Carterton District Council, Wai Art, Wairarapa Herb Society, and Resilient Carterton, the new development of the Haumanu Community Garden also includes many other community organisations such as Lions, Keep Carterton Beautiful Group, and Te Hauora Runanga o Wairarapa. 

The wider community are also actively involved — a public design workshop brought together a wide range of people who provided fantastic suggestions and ideas to shape the design of the garden including innovative methods and systems, a wide range of plants and herbs including Māori medicinal plants, landscape design features, information signs, and examples of what people can use in their own gardens.  This new development has begun and will be completed early 2019. Volunteers have also formed the gardening group which grows the plants and maintains the gardens.

This is an exciting collaborative community-led project offering a wide range of community benefits and outcomes.  The Haumanu Community Garden will be an artistic and functional space that will play a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of the Carterton community (particularly for families that are most vulnerable), as well as foster valuable connecting, volunteering, and mentoring opportunities.

Hayden Mischefski

The secret to Carterton’s success is a community full of do-ers, and Hayden Mischefski is one of these people — he thinks up an idea and then does it. 

Hayden has been in Carterton for 8 years, since moving from Wellington in pursuit of a new lifestyle. Since being in Carterton, Hayden has initiated 7 community projects which include: 

The Fix It Lab

The Fix It Lab is a community-run workshop hosted by volunteers with the skills to make repairs for people in the community. The idea was borne from the ‘Living the Change’ film, and is founded on the principles of reusing and repairing, and diverting items from landfill. The Lab offers repair services once a month, in a variety of areas including sewing, toy repairs, bike repairs, and more. The community can access the lab by donation, koha, or the use of the green dollar system.

The Asia and Friends Food Night Market 

Asia and Friends is a local food night market based in Carterton and held quarterly. The events aims to showcase the community’s ethnic diversity, and aims to bring new people to Carterton to enjoy an evening out. The market offers a range of ethnic foods, coffee, and stalls, as well as interactive music sessions. These markets are very successful, with hundreds of people attending. 

The Carterton Kite Festival

Hayden organised the inaugural Carterton Kite Festival this year. The event aimed to bring people to Carterton, and for families to enjoy a day out. Families could bring a kite down to the park’s green space, and enjoy meeting new and old friends. The first event was well attended, and Hayden hopes to make this an annual event. 

Community Fruit Harvesting Wairarapa

The Community Fruit Harvesting group harvest surplus organic produce, which would otherwise be wasted, and redistribute it to schools, groups, and local food banks. The initiative is focussed on food security, resilience, and education — jams have been made at school homework clubs!

Hayden writes, “I have a 3C vision for Carterton: community, conservation and charity. I believe that Carterton is the best community because it is better placed to serve the region as the main hub for professional services, new businesses and start-ups. It also has more strings in its bow in terms of development potential, events and outdoor activities.”

What’s next? 

These stories are just a tiny snapshot of the Carterton community, and we feel we really punch above our weight for a town of our size. We hear stories of community support, people caring for one another, and collaboration all the time. The Carterton Crier, a local community paper run by volunteers, shares stories like these on a monthly basis. 

As we were preparing this application, we spotted a story that Carterton Playcentre shared on Facebook, describing the large amount of community effort that has gone into the Carterton Playcentre renovation. Karin wrote, “I left today feeling so inspired, knowing that our kids are loved and valued in our community! We're so lucky to be part of Carterton!”

The Community Led Development program with the Department of Internal Affairs is an exciting space to watch. We look forward to brainstorming even more progressive solutions for Carterton, and bringing these ideas to life! 

What’s next? That’s a great question! The Carterton community grows annually as we attract more like-minded, community focused people to our region. Carterton presents a lot of opportunities and potential, new ideas, and ‘can-do’ people that are willing to make things happen. The future is promising as the sky really is the limit in Carterton! 

We can’t imagine how exciting it would be to win the Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award! It would be a huge honour for our community, and a special reward and recognition for the large number of volunteers and community members who work daily to make Carterton an awesome place to live.

Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. Although we are small, we are a treasure.