By Sue Jenkins

On Saturday 13th February Newtown was home to a very special kind of Treasure Hunt, revealing, to residents and visitors alike, some hidden treasures lying at the heart of the community.

A beautiful, sunny, Wellington afternoon and children and adults assembled at the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre to register for the event; picking up a map with essential clues and preparing for a fun day out! Many of the participants had risen to the challenge of donning fancy dress costume for the occasion.

Along the route there were many ‘have-a-go activities’ such as: energetic hula-hooping at the Wellington Circus Trust, learning a new dance move at the NZ School of Dance, and the slightly more sedate, but very creative, art-workshop pasta-style at Cicio Cacio Osteria. Some particularly talented youngsters were observed giving it their best shot and certainly enjoying themselves into the bargain.

The Treasure Hunt introduced participants to some of Newtown’s older historical sites such as the older Fever Hospital now the how to the SPCA. They were introduced to the world behind the rising stars of Toi Whakaari and New Zealand School of Dance and tickled their taste buds with a new cold nitro brew at the People’s Coffee Roastery. Whether it was a visit to the Carrara Park Community Gardens or a sneak peek at Te Kaahui Kohanga Reo, there was certainly something for everyone.

And a lovely idea at St Anne’s Place of Peace, where the wishing tree could be found. Here, everyone was invited to write down their wish and hang it on the wishing tree. From the very understandable wish for ‘a special pet’ to an extremely poignant wish for ‘the bullies to stop,’ everybody had a chance to express their heartfelt wishes in that lovely, quiet spot.

The afternoon was rounded off with a free BBQ at Newtown Workingman’s Bowling club and a live performance by Sendam Rawkustra.

The aim of the treasure hunt was to create a sense of adventure in people’s backyard. As people journeyed through the different activity stations they would continue to bump into each other and share their stories and experiences. The BBQ afterwards provided a space where these informal relationships could be continued still within the space of the event. Hopefully a longer term impact will be that they will share a smile or a hello next time they pass each other in the street.

Everyone learnt something new about ‘this place called home,’ during a very well organised and adventurous afternoon. A well-deserved vote of thanks goes to the many people volunteering their time to ensure that the event ran smoothly and maintained a high level of safety. Radiant smiles on the faces of the people positioned at each of the stations along the route and encouraging comments from those assisting with road-crossing helped the participants! A newcomer to Newtown, I certainly enjoyed the tremendous sense of community.

This event wouldn’t have been possible without the Sponsors, including Newtown New World and Commonsense Organics, WCC & Thank you Charitable Trust.

To find out more about how to organise a community treasure hunt – go to


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