Wed, Nov 2, 2022 1:00 PM

Blenheim’s best kept secret


Matt Brown

Near the end of a leafy Blenheim street, a special house steeped in history beats as the heart of Riversdale.

For nearly forty years Riversdale Community House has welcomed the suburb’s families, groups and committees for parties, meetings and even exercise classes.

And as the area grows, and the pace of life increases, the house committee are looking to remind Riversdale residents to take part in their community.

Committee deputy chair Miriam McNamara says some people in the community don’t know they have this facility.

“A lot of people kind of know, but there have been a lot of subdivisions and back sections. A lot of renters. We’d love people to know about it.

“I think Riversdale is one of the best kept secrets of Blenheim,” she says.

“They don’t know how good it is.”

Set up in 1989 by Riversdale Promotions Inc, the house initially offered early childhood care, advisory services and holiday programmes.

Now owned by Kainga Ora, the application for the house, administered by the Housing Corporation of the time, was approved by Ms Helen Clark – the Minister for Housing at the time.

Noel Moore joined the committee 17 years ago and was instrumental in bringing the valuable community resource back from the brink.

“At that stage, it was winding down, almost,” he says.

A builder by trade, Noel performs most of the maintenance on the building, as well as lending his skills to other community projects. He built the raised garden beds at the local community garden.

He says over the years, he’s seen a lot of change.

“People on the committee served well and had different types of input.

“I believe it’s really good to have a central focus of the suburb,” Miriam says. “We don’t have a shop.

Photo: Matt Brown.

“Otherwise, it’s a string of houses. This makes it a village.

“It’s a safe place – it’s fenced, so it’s safe for kid’s birthday parties. And the cost is minimal, which people like,” says Noel.

Miriam says a lot of people who use it come from greater Blenheim.

“We’ve even had a wedding here. Well, the reception.

“I’d love to see the people who work, renters and people studying here know there’s a place they can drop in. They can use it for whatever their needs are.

Noel says many groups are already using it; they are home to a ukulele group, a singing group, a card making group and at one stage, a craft group.

“A lot of groups are for older people,” he says. “We would love a wider audience.

“A youth group would be great.”

The House is currently running a bi-monthly talk series.

The next speaker, Helen Grennall, went to Saudi Arabia for a year to nurse – but ended up staying there for 21 years.

The talk begins at 7pm, on Friday 11 November at Riversdale Community House, 131 Budge Street, and is free entry.

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