How we are doing. Me pēhea tatou

Mark Amery reports on a special time for and looks back on the site’s activity since it launched.

Image: Mark Coote

A rocket launch at the end of June 2019 at the Paekākāriki Surf Club as the sun sets. We huddle together against the cold before a beach fire, or we perch silhouetted on a fanciful rocket tower. Join in kapa haka and watch, crowded together, aghast as Community Board member Tina Pope, puts a lit rocket on her back and attempts to ascend the rocket tower. These beautiful photographs here, taken by talented members of the Paekākāriki community speak to our diversity, independence and, shall I say, kookiness. This was the launch of this website platform

Now, we find ourselves in our bubbles and community media has never felt more important. A website developed, built and funded entirely by the community is coming into its own. Even the seemingly small stuff shows it – like the rest of the country you like your takeaways. 110 people went to the Finns takeaway menu in the first 24 hours of level 3.

Huge thanks then to all our supporting businesses whose financial contribution has enabled it to run. This feels like a significant moment for the platform as it plays a role in the Covid19 lockdown. After establishing an emergency information hub online ahead of lockdown with the Emergency Preparedness Group and Community Board which is daily updated, and publishing a Q&A with the Community Board, this April and May you will notice us step up our stories section reflecting the community’s increased reliance on the site. 

Thanks are particularly due to coordinating editor Holly Jane Ewens. Yet, once again many are contributing. Just this week Grant Lees installed a donation gateway to make it easier for you to help us out financially at a time when our supporting businesses will be struggling. If you can assist a little bit you can go here

We started getting analytics on the site at the end of August 2019. Numbers. This shows engagement has continued to grow. Over the last six months November to April we have had 11,700 visits to the site – an average of 487 per week. There have been 27,500 page views. This increased strongly from August-October. There has been a steady increase before an even bigger jump as we went into lockdown. 

Stories have ranged from a history of the Holton’s Building and Lake Hallow where the Bowling Club is, to the planned vehicle weigh station at McKays and photo essays. In the last fortnight it has included a look by Dr Mike Joy at significant issues around the Wainui Stream to Sarah Bainbridge’s job scanning hearts as an essential worker – Paekākāriki, if nothing else, is full of great writers and photographers. 

You won’t be surprised to learn that the most popular walk featured is the escarpment, with over 1100 visits but 702 for the Pukerua Bay beach walk suggests for example, the site has become an important resource to Pukerua Bay residents. Both are examples of great local photography and top insider information.

We have had 832 visitors to the Covid19 hub page — not bad reach given this is more than the the number of village households.

Normally event publication takes up a lot of the editor’s time and is an important part of the website’s job when not in lockdown. The large readership for the Waitangi Day event page in February – 1105 visits – is a great example of how vital this can be. 

A fortnightly newsletter was instituted in late 2019 highlighting supporter’s services and keeping people up to date with events, news and stories. This is the single easiest way for you to help strengthen this community network, so we are not solely reliant on the algorithms of Facebook.  Subscribe with your email here.

We’d welcome your feedback on what we could do better and your contributions ([email protected]). As you may know we provide free pages to our community organisations, and free basic listings for local services. However, if you have a service we encourage you to support everyone by paying our modest $75 per annum listing fee and take advantage of more retail space and editorial support.

For those new to our kaupapa, welcome. We are Paekākāriki Informed Community Inc, we also collectively run Paekākāriki 88.2FM and previously published the newspaper Paekakariki Xpressed, which gave us much inspiration to strengthen our community through independent media. 

I’m aware I am writing at a time when it’s getting difficult financially and mentally for many. As a village we’re all in this together and we hope that a platform like this, that we collectively hold, can give us strength. Thank you to the very many, who all in their own way, are making it a space for everyone.  

Mark Amery

Managing Editor

On behalf of Paekākāriki Informed Community Inc.