When Nelson resident Marcia Griggs heard about the idea of a community treasure hunt at an Inspiring Communities training workshop she got excited and thought, ‘ I could do that!’

She’s not the only one. More than 20 community treasure hunts have now been held in Kiwi communities. The success of treasure hunts has been hugely assisted by Violence Free Waitakere who have created the Our Amazing Place website and an online toolkit to support people wanting to organise their own local events. They also support on online community of ‘treasure hunters’ to ensure resources, ideas and learning is shared and advice is readily at hand!

Community treasure hunts see local residents of all ages following a trail in their local community, stopping at a number of stations where a fun challenge, activity or task is completed and traded for a stamp for their ‘passport’. Treasure hunters then head to a final destination, like a local park or school for a shared picnic/BBQ and prizes. It’s all about having fun, connecting with others and discovering local treasure – special people, landscapes, resources, projects, facilities, groups, and services.

For Marcia, organising a community treasure hunt was a way to connect up and profile the many diverse community groups based in her community known locally as The Wood. “When I stopped to think about it, I realised how just many treasures we had tucked away that local residents might not even know about – like the Wood Turners Club, the Squash Club, the Bands Room, the Geneologists.”

Marcia shares her experience of organising a Treasure Hunt for 180 fellow neighbours earlier this year.

How did you get started? I looked up the Our Amazing Place website and spoke to others who had organised Treasure Hunts before to get a sense of what was involved. Then I went for a walk to map out a potential route and also discovered places I didn’t know existed though I’d lived in The Wood for 30 years. My original loop took about 1.5 hours but I had to cut that down so it would fit into the one hour walking timeframe.

 Who helped make it happen?

I talked to others in my community who thought the event sounded like a great idea and everything just fell into place. I approached lots of organisations to see if they wanted to be part of it and nearly everyone said yes! I advertised for some help on the Volunteer Nelson website and the local Z Service Station owner responded straight away with 3 volunteers. My family were also great – my daughter designed the poster for the event, they helped out with registration, taking pictures and helping everyone get fed. 5+ a day gave us 300 pieces of fresh fruit and Fuji Xerox jumped on board and photocopied all the flyers.

Who came and what did they do?

I expected about 20-30 people and was totally surprised when 180 people turned up. Our trail had 13 stations and saw people having a go at squash, kite flying, trumpet blowing, 3 legged races, obstacle courses on bikes, and there were even water pistol wars at the local kindy. One station was also a photo booth and that was really popular!   We all met back up at Results Gym at the end of the afternoon and there was a treasure chest draw for box of sponsored local prizes.

How did people find out about the Treasure Hunt?

Promotion happened through the local schools newsletters and we put up posters all over The Wood and dropped flyers in letter boxes. The local paper ran a great story prior to the event and we set up a face book page which was a great way to share pictures from the day and to thank everyone who’d helped out. Neighbourhood Support also helped spread the wood via local street coordinators in The Wood.

What was your highlight from the Treasure Hunt?

That everyone had so much fun – both station organisers and participants. There was such a buzz created and the feedback was incredible, the Wood really is an amazing place. Everyone wants to do it again next year!

While it was hard work, I learned a lot and that’s been helpful in planning another Treasure Hunt in the Victory Community of Nelson where I’m working.

For more information about Our Amazing Place and how to run a treasure hunt in your community go to the website or email Bronwyn Walters at oap@violencefreewaitakere.org

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