Fab Feathy 6-monthly report: December 2018

How it works

Fab Feathy is a partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). DIA funds community-led development programmes around the country.

Community-led development involves people in a community coming together to identify shared ideas and dreams – as well as issues and concerns – then creating goals. The community then works together to achieve those goals. The goals identified by people in Featherston are set out in the community plan: Our Future Featherston.

The role of the Fab Feathy facilitators is to bring people together to achieve these goals. We help project/‘action’ groups get up and running by connecting people who have a shared interest and helping things get going (eg, by organising and coming along to the group’s first meeting(s)). We also offer support with logistics like funding applications and talking to council.

An important aspect to understand about community-led development is that the facilitators do not do things ‘for’ the community. They bring people together to form groups and offer them support – but it is up to the community to do the ‘doing’.

The Fab Feathy facilitators are accountable to the Fab Feathy Steering Group and our partners at DIA in terms of ensuring that they carry out their roles in alignment with the definition of the programme being ‘community led’. The facilitators report to the Steering Group and our DIA partners at monthly meetings where they provide a written progress report which is discussed at the meeting.

Fab Feathy’s achievements, therefore, focus on the work they have done to implement the community plan under this community-led development model. Their achievements are not about the number of groups formed or projects completed – which are achievements of the community and beyond their control – but about the work they have done to provide the community with opportunities to get involved; and where groups have formed, the support they have provided to those groups.

Setting up

Jack took the lead for setting up our technical infrastructure. He introduced a range of tools, including Trello, Slack and a shared Google Drive.

Jointly, we have built up a spreadsheet of more than 400 contacts. Because the facilitators often work with the same people, this enables us to share information. (Note that this spreadsheet is in a secure space and never shared with others.) A client relationship management tool (CRM) has been trialled and will be implemented in the new year.

We have also established adatabase of funding providers and had training in the Generosity NZ funding tool, which we can access at REAP in Masterton.

Relationship building

The steering group directed the facilitators to spend their first 4 to 6 weeks establishing relationships/networking and learning more about ‘the big picture’ of Featherston. The facilitators had meetings with a large number of organisations and people in the community (or connected to the community) – including people from social agencies, local businesses, non-profit organisations, the community board and the council. The facilitators gained an understanding of the work the organisations and individuals are involved in and what they see as the strengths and challenges for Featherston.

  • Important has been taking the time to build relationships with Māori, including the group that represents Featherston, Pāe tū Mōkai o Tauira, and gaining an understanding of what is important to them.
  • Fab Feathy has worked closely with the Featherston Community Board. In the early days it was important to eliminate overlaps and ensure our work complemented rather than duplicated. We have built a strong relationship and frequently share ideas and developments, and someone from Fab Feathy always attends the Community Board meeting.
  • We have met twice with Paul Crimp and Viv Napier, and a number of times with Mark Allingham in relation to specific projects. As well as establishing good working relationships, these meetings have provided the opportunity to discuss projects that are evolving (eg, the proposed Wairarapa Moana Trail) and get a sense of the council’s take on those proposals and how they should be presented. We have also discussed and agreed a process for updating the council via a regular update in the FCB meeting papers.
  • One of the facilitators always attends the Featherston Community Network, a 6-weekly meeting of social agencies where local issues and initiatives are discussed.

Community networking

The facilitators spend as much time as possible out and about in the community. This includes volunteering and taking part in local events, having meetings in cafes, and just making a point of hanging out in the main street and talking to people.

Pot Luck Dinner

The facilitators held a mid-winter community Pot Luck Dinner to nurture connections across the community amongst food and song, introduce the facilitators and give them the opportunity to mingle, and take the community’s ‘pulse’ about which projects in the community plan are a priority for them. There was also a sign-up sheet for people who wanted to get involved.

  • We approached Chris Miller who designed an awesome flyer. We co-opted Alan’s youth group to help us deliver it to every mailbox in Featherston.
  • The Youth Group and other volunteers helped us set up before the event. We pulled in some wonderful individuals and the Lionesses to help run the kitchen, and local students provided live entertainment.
  • Over 185 people attended the dinner: 71% took part in the prioritisation activity and 19 signed up to volunteer/get involved.
  • We had mixed feedback on the dinner. Many loved the evening, but some felt we missed the opportunity to give a thorough update on where Fab Feathy is at.

Featherston Expo

Fab Feathy had a stand at the Featherston Expo where we talked to people about the Fab Feathy kaupapa and some of the projects that the community had indicated were a priority and which we were trying to get momentum for. There was high interest in walking trails in the hills, a cycle/walking trail to Wairarapa Moana, and having a cinema.

  • We signed up 14 people who indicated they were keen to get involved – some in specific activities, some generally.
  • The Wairarapa Moana Trail group grew out of our activities at the Expo, as did ongoing conversations around opening up trails in the hills.
  • The Expo also provided the opportunity for Fab Feathy to network with the range of community groups that were there.


In our first month, we developed a Communications Plan which set out our key activities. We approached Chris Miller who designed a logo for us, and we set up a Fab Feathy Facebook page (which now has 261 page likes). We also have separate groups for the Wairarapa Moana Trail (32 members) and Featherston Creatives (39 members).

We’ve written regular articles for The Phoenix, and have advertised meetings and events via flyers around town and at the railway station.

More recently we set up [this] Fab Feathy website: fabfeathy.nz, where you can read about our journey, how community-led development works, and what each of the facilitators does.

Implementing the community plan

The facilitators each took responsibility for four to five of the ‘themes’ in the community plan (with one theme – ‘Building Community’ – being shared). The community plan has over 150 project ideas, and it was necessary to first understand which were priorities for the community. The section in the plan that contains recommendations for where to start provided initial guidance, and the community’s feedback (eg, at the Pot Luck and Expo) on what activities are important for them was followed closely. Each of the facilitators set out an annual workplan, showing the initiatives they are focusing on.

More public art

Fab Feathy set up a ‘Featherston Creatives’ group and has held four ‘Art hui’ – where local artists come together to network and share ideas. A Featherston Creatives email list and Facebook page (39 members) have been established. These are some of the things that have grown out of this group:

  • An undercover ‘guerilla art’ group has formed which may or may not (it’s secret!) have been behind the rock art on the vacant lot.
  • An artist shared his dream for having an arts centre in Featherston. Fab Feathy found a main street location for him and provided advice, support and encouragement. He takes over the lease on 1 Jan!
  • A group interested in having murals around town formed and went on an initial excursion to identify sites. Next year Fab Feathy will help this group take the next steps to getting some murals done.
  • One of the Featherston Creatives group is going to run a writers’ group for Featherston locals next year. This person has qualifications and experience in literature and is also very creative. We are excited! As a thank you, we sought funding for her to attend the Joy Cowley workshop at Booktown 2019 (but unfortunately she can’t attend on the scheduled date).
  • Fab Feathy facilitated a meeting between Fareham House and the New Pacific Studio to talk about possibly relocating the artists’ residency there. However, this was unsuccessful.
  • Fab Feathy introduced Jonas Koukl to the Community Centre and Fareham House. Jonas is a creative Wairarapa musician who is interested in holding music exploration workshops in Featherston next year.
  • Fab Feathy connected Mary Biggs with two creative, talented people who have great ideas for events for Booktown 2019 that are designed to engage Featherston people.

History and heritage

  • The Community Plan talks about having a stronger presence in Featherston for Māori history and heritage. Fab Feathy had several meetings with  members of Pae tū Mōkai (the group that represents Māori in Featherston) as well as with individuals, to build relationships and explain the Fab Feathy kaupapa and what it could offer them.
  • Fab Feathy invited senior lecturers from Victoria University’s landscape architecture school to meet with us (and a representative from Pae tū Mōkai – although unfortunately, she was unable to attend) to discuss the interesting thesis work that Masters’ students have done in the Featherston area. The lecturers provided copies of many of the studies, which we are circulating within the community.
  • All the Fab Feathy facilitators attended te reo classes during the six months, which included powhiri at Kohunui Marae.
  • Fab Feathy met with a representative of the Heritage Group to discuss the item in the community plan around digital recording of oral and photographic history. The group indicated that while some work has been done, they are interested in doing more next year.
  • Featherston’s Carkeek Observatory is seen by Heritage NZ as a ‘site of national significance’ and Fab Feathy made use of our communications channels to let local people know that it is there and that a Friends group is forming – there is the opportunity to be involved.

Railway station

  • The community plan talks about improvements to the railway station, and Fab Feathy posted a question about this on the Wairarapa Commuters’ Facebook page, which attracted 114 comments. Two meetings with representatives from GW and SWDC were organised, to give the commuters the opportunity to explain their concerns directly to an elected representative. (Kieran McAnulty also attended the first meeting.) An email list for the commuters was then set up and Fab Feathy has liaised with SWDC and GW – and the commuters – as solutions to most of the issues have been developed.

Upgrading the dog park

  • Fab Feathy put some project ideas on Facebook that the community might like to get involved in and the Dog Park initiative was one of the first to be picked up. This group is led by Indigo Freya. They have produced a wishlist of dog park features, a draft landscape plan and a planting list – and have talked to the community board and Mark Allingham. (Paul Crimp told us that as a result of this initiative, Greytown and Martinborough have started similar projects.) Fab Feathy has a fairly hands-off role in this project but recently advised on funding options.

Destination Featherston

  • Fab Feathy established a group for ‘tourism operators’ in Featherston. It includes accommodation providers, retailers, tourism companies, event organisers and our heritage and museum organisations. Being a single collective is powerful! There is greater lobbying potential, data and knowledge can be shared, and ideas can be developed and supported. Our region’s tourism marketing agency, Destination Wairarapa, is a keen supporter of this group and Fab Feathy are facilitating opportunities for them to provide advice and information to the group.
  • Fab Feathy put in for a ‘competition’ to win $10K to improve our community: we asked for free WiFi in the main street. Unfortunately we weren’t successful, but Jack is now talking to local businesses and people with telecommunications expertise about this.

‘Visit Featherston’ website

  • Finding a community-led focus for this project was a challenge. Anne picked it up, having a web content (and project) background. The call went out to the community through a number of channels for people who wanted to learn about writing for the web (and work on the project) – but there was almost no uptake. Anne then approached Kuranui College, and a partnership has been set up with the Technology and English Departments, whereby students who are interested in writing and marketing – and coding – can get involved in this and other web projects, with mentoring from Anne. At the moment we have just one student doing visitor interviews and content writing over the summer, but it’s a start. There has also been discussion about NCEA students doing technical coding for ‘real projects’ for Featherston organisations and businesses next year.
  • Jack and Anne met with Dave Hancock from Destination Wairarapa and he agreed that if we provide improved content, they will use it on the wairarapanz.com site to replace the current (somewhat inadequate) content about Featherston that is there. This is the site that shows up first in searches for ‘visit Featherston’ and similar. The content being written by the Kuranui student should be suitable for this.
  • Fab Feathy has asked Wairarapa REAP to run a ‘Wordpress for Beginners’ workshop in Featherston early next year, and two people from the Featherston Creatives have offered to run a ‘Facebook for Beginners’ course.

Housing for the elderly

Fab Feathy supported the setting up of a group called ‘Older People’s Concerns’ which did some initial investigation into the feasibility of having a rest home in Featherston and ran a small survey on the housing needs of older people. Anne and Kim Goodall visited Turret House’s Wisdom & Wellbeing group to hear about their needs, and Anne invited Kim to the Community Network Meeting where she presented on the work she was doing around the housing needs of the elderly in Featherston.

Since then, Fab Feathy has:

  • Met with Esther Bukholt who is running the Positive Ageing Strategyfor the Wairarapa councils and fed in the findings so far about the needs of the elderly in Featherston
  • Met several times with Small Time (Brookside Developments) to help them tailor their development for the elderly (as a large potential resident group). We connected them with Turret House’s Wisdom & Wellbeing group as a focus group to provide feedback on their plans
  • Met with a Featherston resident who is looking at whether it is possible to establish a dementia care and high-needs residential home in Featherston. We shared our earlier learnings and connected her with people who may be able to help.

Rental housing and community health needs

  • Fab Feathy has put out lots of feelers but there is no interest yet in forming a community group to advocate for the needs of Featherston people who are on low incomes and renting (high rents, low availability).
  • Fab Feathy met with Naomi Mitcheson from Emerge Aotearoa, an organisation that provides emergency housing for people who are likely to find it difficult to get a rental (eg, having a poor previous renting record). We connected Turret House (Presbyterian Social Services) with this organisation.
  • Fab Feathy met with Hasha and Aruni Dias and wrote a letter of support of their proposed new medical centre project.

Children and childcare

  • In the early days, Fab Feathy asked on Facebook what people would like to get involved in and Merle Adams took the lead on early childhood education and OSCAR. A small, strong and skilled action group quickly grew. Fab Feathy connected this group with Small Time Developments, who are prepared to include community facilities in their planned development, and talks are underway around a custom-build crèche being available in phase 1 of the development. The action group has drafted guiding principles and are meeting fortnightly to work on a business plan.
  • At our first Fab Feathy meeting with the council, Jack brought up the issue of playground fencing. This is something that many individuals and groups in Featherston had been asking for, for a long time. Our advocacy was the final drop in the bucket and fencing was put in place around half of the playground (with the council advising that discussions around the rest of the fencing will happen when the Medical Centre moves).

Cycling and walking

  • A common request Fab Feathy have heard from the community (especially at the Featherston Expo) is for greater access to the walking trails on our doorstep in the Remutaka and Tararua ranges. Fab Feathy has been meeting with the relevant organisations to understand access rights. We plan to collect information about this and make it available to the community and visitors.
  • Fab Feathy has also facilitated a Wairarapa Moana Trail group, which is looking into the feasibility of a cycling and walking trail from the town to Wairarapa Moana. This responds to calls for more off-road walking and cycling options, and for more connectedness between the town and lake.


  • Fab Feathy facilitated the setting up of a Friends of the Swimming Pool group. This group is working closely with the Featherston Amateur Swim Club, and wants to improve facilities at the pool and access for lane swimmers and disabled people.
  • Fab Feathy has facilitated communications between the Swim Club and council, to ensure consistent maintenance is planned.

Gym/fitness facilities

  • There was strong community support at the Pot Luck dinner for more gym and/or fitness options. However, we haven’t been able to get a group together to look into this – and there is already a gym running in Featherston.

Food and gardening / Waste not, want not

  • Fab Feathy has been working closely with Nick Young and the District Health Board to plan a veg co-operative for Featherston. This is likely to be launched after Christmas and will increase the accessibility of affordable fruit and veg for our community.
  • Food Rescue has been a hot topic in Featherston and Fab Feathy has facilitated two community meetings to explore the needs of both our services and whanau. Fab Feathy also brought Waiwaste to Featherston to share some of their knowledge, expertise and support as we progress along our own Food Rescue journey. This project aims to see us save food that would otherwise go to landfill (but is still good enough to eat) and share it with our community through the Food Bank, local churches and other services.
  • The Featherston Growers recently set about looking into ways to buy organic materials in bulk to reduce the cost for their members but also increase access to the likes of mulch, bark chip and oat straw. They approached Fab Feathy to find a space to store these orders and we linked them up with Fareham House. The owners at Fareham House are also passionate about community gardening and education, so it was an ideal place for the Growers to consider storing their organics.
  • The Growers have also begun exploring options for a community garden and community planting workshops. Fab Feathy is working to link them with other relevant groups and passionate individuals so that this project can come to fruition.

Natural surroundings

  • Fab Feathy has obtained permission from SWDC for a community project to carry out riparian planting along the main waterways on the Hodder Farm. Riparian planting significantly improves the health of waterways so this is a fantastic opportunity.
  • Fab Feathy has had a presence at each of the Wairarapa Moana Wānanga events held at Kohunui Marae this year, in order to build stronger connections with our local iwi and to offer support for restoration and environmental projects concerning the moana and surrounding natural areas. These events are fantastic and already showing some amazing fruit in terms of awareness in our young people. Fab Feathy is keen to continue to engage and support community initiatives that grow from this.

Young people

  • For some time, the Wairarapa Whanau Trust has been wanting to do some renovation work at Boundary Road, to make the space even better for our youth. Fab Feathy has facilitated a connection between the Trust and the Corrections Department so the opportunity is there for some of that work to be undertaken by community workers. This not only helps the Boundary Road project, but also gives our local community workers the opportunity to give back to a project which is very valuable to Featherston.
  • Fab Feathy is also growing a relationship with the student Environmental Club at Kuranui College, who are exploring building their own outdoor classroom space. This group are passionate about both the external and social environment, so Fab Feathy is excited to connect them with the growing network.