Back to top anchor

Brought to you by Southern DHB and WellSouth primary health network

Open main menu Close main menu

First Connecting Communities funding recipients announced

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group is delighted to announce that 27 groups have been supported through its new Connecting Communities fund, injecting $25,000 across the Southern Lakes region for mental wellbeing activities or events over the summer months. 

The Connecting Communities fund was launched on 10 November 2021 to support community-led activities and events across Queenstown, Wānaka, Cromwell, and Te Anau/Fiordland that improve mental wellbeing by bringing people together and promoting the Five Ways to Wellbeing and Te Whare Tapa Wha

Groups that received funding included the Queenstown Community Harvest Gardens gardening club, Mums4Mums Wakatipu, Cromwell Youth Trust events, LiveMEWell Te Anau breakfast and workshop for blokes, the Lightfoot Initiative Charitable Trust great scavenger hunt, Silent Disco walking/dancing tour, Fiordland Families Network, Whakatipu Strengthening Families, the Glenorchy Heritage and Museum Group for oldest resident stories, Ignite Chamber of Commerce monthly social paddleboarding, Hawea Flat School PTA giant outdoor games community equipment, and Sunny Sky art in motion. A full list is available on the Te Hau Toka webpage

Adell Cox, Chair of the Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group, says that they’re thrilled with the number of responses and inspirational ideas from so many groups across the region seeking to improve mental wellbeing in their communities in different ways. 

“We’re very fortunate to be able to support such a diverse range of great ideas which connect people, support mindfulness, and encourage them to be active, enjoy nature, or learn a new skill.” 

Te Hau Toka has also formed a new partnership with the Wakatipu Community Foundation which will work on its behalf to manage and distribute the funding to recipients after each funding round.  

Kelly Watkinson, the organiser of the Queenstown Community Harvest Gardens gardening club, is delighted to receive extra support to help bring people together and give back to the wider community. 

"Our fortnightly gardening club at the Gorge Road community gardens is a great way for people of all ages to connect, enjoy nature, take time to notice the small things in life, and learn about gardening. It’s great to watch the satisfaction people get by working together to grow and care for vegetables that can then be gifted to local charities like Basket of Blessings to use. Gardening is also a great physical activity, especially for those who might not be drawn to sports.” 

Anna Star, from Fiordland Families Network, says she’s working with the local Plunket group to host get-togethers for parents and whānau of babies and pre-schoolers in Te Anau and the wider Fiordland area.  

“This initiative is part of creating more regular opportunities for whānau of young children to meet up and build social networks, and get access to information which will help them on their parenting journey. We’ll be bringing in speakers to cover a range of topics which could include the postpartum body (physio); first aid with a baby/preschool focus; breastfeeding; parenting styles; mindfulness for parents and caregivers; and nutrition and first foods. We’re keen to help families get to know and look out for each other, and feel well supported by both the community and the services within it.”   

George Affleck from Connect Cromwell and Val Yakas from the Cromwell Chalets are joining forces for a new ‘Happy Days’ social event to help create a stronger community network amongst the residents of the Cromwell Chalets. 

“The Chalets are home to many fulltime residents and workers and there’s an influx of another 150 workers over the summer. The community is a diverse mix of Indian Chorus workers, Vanuatuan/ Fijian orchard workers, and Kiwis. Happy Days, is Val’s idea - she sees it as great opportunity to bring everyone together and form cross-cultural friendships and strong bonds,” says George. 

Eligible groups can apply for up to $1,000 including GST (Terms and Conditions apply) from the Connecting Communities fund.  The next two funding rounds are 28 February - 11 March, and 4-15 July 2022. More details can be found online at



The Connecting Communities fund is part of a $3 million Government fund and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE)’s Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan.  It’s enabling Te Hau Toka to help support, promote and protect the social and mental wellbeing of people living in Queenstown, Wānaka, Cromwell and Te Anau/Fiordland, and assist with addressing the ongoing negative effects of COVID-19.  

Te Hau Toka is currently working through a process to evaluate and support more initiatives across the region in order to direct the MBIE funding to where it’s needed most.  A recent example was boosting Queenstown Lakes District Council’s new Get Active community grant to enable more local organisations to support health and wellbeing in the community.   

Te Hau Toka is also working with affected communities and mental health experts to co-design a plan by December 2021 that best suits local wellbeing needs.