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Meet John Kumitau

03 Jul 2020
john mangere

John Kumitau’s business card says ‘Community Connector’ and that’s the perfect description of his job. A Mangere local for over 20 years, John is passionate about the welfare and happiness of the people in a community he holds close to his heart.

Born in Niue, John came to New Zealand in 1981. He worked for 23 years as a probation officer with what is now the Department of Corrections. Then he spent eight years as a council community safety and community development adviser in South Auckland – until his current role as Community Connector for Mangere Development.

A father of five and grandfather of 10, John is 100 per cent a family and community man.

He initiates and leads a number of projects including the Community Safety Gardens, Pacific Safety Wardens, Cadetships for Mangere Secondary Schools, HOPE Trust and a project that recycles materials from demolished houses.

Just ask John

He loves his job with the Mangere Development Information Centre because it has given him the opportunity to help so many different groups. “We have been able to use windows and doors from houses that have been demolished to help families who need them in Mangere,” he says. “We’ve even been able to send some of the materials to a number of Pacific Island nations to help rebuild after cyclones.

“Perhaps the part I enjoy the most is helping people realise that home ownership is possible for them. I feel really passionately about the fact that increasing rents keep pushing people from our community out of the suburbs they’ve lived in all their lives. It has been happening since the time when we lived in groups in Mission Bay, then it was Parnell, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and so on.

“I want to teach people that they can buy a house and put down roots for their family and future generations. Kāinga Ora has all kinds of ways to help people and I love it when people come in looking for long-term rentals and leave realising that – with the assistance available – they can actually buy a house!

“In Niuean we say ‘Ka fia fano mafiti, fano tokotaha. Ka fia fano mamao, o auloa’. It means ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ I think those are some of the truest words ever spoken.

“With a community approach we can create ‘Mangere for Mangere’ and help people live the lives they want, and deserve.”