Masterton brokerage open for creative ideas

Children engage with Liana’s Parlour of Natural Beauty, a recent project by Liana Stupples in Lower Hutt which brought all the natural goodness of the surrounding environment into a vacant retail space. Image: Dionne Ward

Children engage with Liana’s Parlour of Natural Beauty, a recent project by Liana Stupples in Lower Hutt which brought all the natural goodness of the surrounding environment into a vacant retail space. Image: Dionne Ward

A new programme in Masterton wants to help you realise your urban dreams. Part of the Our Future Masterton programme, the Urban Dream Brokerage is calling for ideas for activities and uses for vacant commercial and public space which explore new ways to use space and give more life to the Masterton CBD. Following workshops held with the community in 2016 and recently through Unicef with school students, the call is for ideas that are innovative and participatory, and speak to different options for changes to the town centre

Proposals are due by the last Friday of every month, starting this month. Ideas may be proposed by a webpage or discussed with Masterton’s recently appointed ‘urban dream broker’ Anneke Wolterbeek ( Ph. 027 5664600).

“We’re interested in all innovative ideas that help create a better connected community, strengthen connections between age groups, and recognise and build capability for mana whenua,” says Wolterbeek. “The community has asked for projects that create more shared spaces, strengthen connections between spaces and represent Masterton’s heritage, culture and amazing environment. There is so much potential here. Ideas should operate differently to businesses and activities already in existence - who we want to support by bringing more people to the centre.”

Urban Dream Brokerage is a programme run by public art and urban revitalisation organisation Letting Space, who already run such a model successfully in Wellington, Dunedin and Porirua. The programme will run as a pilot until the end of this year. The brokerage service has facilitated over 70 projects, and has been heralded by property owners, community groups and councils alike nationally. 70% of the 34 properties occupied in Wellington over the last four years have been re-tenanted since the programme began.

Ideas have ranged from a political hair salon, where young people are encouraged to discuss politics, to an ‘Imaginarium’, a playspace for young and old alike who are welcomed to create their own cardboard constructions. There have been illuminated bike parades, fashion recycling workshops, a video game museum and a bicycle library. The latest project in Dunedin Sunroom brings the sun into a vacant shop using projections beamed from solar telescopes around the world.

Local Masterton broker Anneke Wolterbeek is being supported by a local advisory group. “ Lots of strong common ideas have already come through from the workshops” says Wolterbeek, “in terms of a keen desire for changes to CBD spaces and the kind of activities that our Urban Dream Brokerage can help enable”.

A former secretary and committees’ chair for the Rotary club of Masterton, Wolterbeek has been an active member of the EOC team (Wairarapa Emergency Operations Centre) of Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (REMO) and Chair of the Rotary District International Friendship Exchange Committee. Passionate about community development and sustainability, she is treasurer for the Wellington Region Waste Forum, club secretary for the Wairarapa Beekeepers Club and the organiser of the monthly Wairarapa Dogwalk Club. Wolterbeek previously worked for the Greater Wellington Regional Council as a Environmental Policy Advisor in Masterton.

“I enjoy being able to positively influence and improve the physical and social environment of our community in Masterton,” says Anneke, “and have plenty of work and life experience in other parts of the world as well. This job as part of the Our Future Masterton project is special to me: it is a chance to help the community realise creative ideas with business, property owners, Iwi and council that explore vision for the future of Masterton.”

The Urban Dream Brokerage Masterton is part of a wider Our Future Masterton programme, which is being run by Letting Space in partnership with the Toi Aria Design for Public Good programme at Massey University. It is being funded by the Masterton District Council. Following a series of community workshops in 2016, Our Future Masterton is now getting up and running to help enable a citizen driven 50-year vision for the Masterton town centre.

“The nature of our town centre is changing, and this programme recognises that,” says District Council chief executive Pim Borren. “It puts more of the ownership and control of planning for our future in the hands of the full diversity of the people who will inherit it, not just council staff or any particular interest group in Masterton. We very excited to sponsor this project.”

Reports from the 2016 workshops are available to view here on the Masterton District Council website, and a Facebook page is a portal for information about the project. Here the public can keep up to date with updates.

As part of the programme, an interactive hub space is being created by Toi Aria which will allow the public to continue to make contributions, showcase the community’s ideas and visualisations of options for the CBD, including past proposals. The focus is on trialling ideas that lead to a 50 year vision for Masterton that recognises that real substantive changes happen in towns when the community feels enabled to realise their ideas and lead over time. When people are empowered in a community where they can make a difference, a partnership and trust can happen with their local government.