Thames Asset Mapping

Community Is About What We Share

The project was sparked when Dale Williams, the then mayor of Otorohanga spoke to a packed house at a T3:TransitionTownThames breakfast at the Thames Club in late 2010.

Dale had achieved zero youth unemployment for his town, with all sorts of spin off social and economic benefits. He had done this through careful networking with both Wintec and the town's major employers, resisting any pressure to take the centre or focus of learning or employment away from the town. This involved identifying local members of the community, and community groups, who had skills, experience or objectives to contribute to a vision of young people that the town could be proud of, and who would be proud of the town.

At the end of his inspiring presentation, Dale threw down the challenge: if you don't know what the assets of your people and place are, you don't know what you've got to draw from and work with.

The Asset Mapping Project was born!

Thinking about assets in terms of infrastructure, facilities and community groups was fairly standard, but the unique things about this project was thinking about what makes Thames matter to the individuals who live: what they love and what they bring to the town. The potential was seen to be linking up the things that often don't get seen, whether these are the interests and skills of individuals, or important, non-structural elements of the place (such as the outline of the hills behind the town) that have a profound importance for many people, and are never valued. We chose a “map driven” approach, and, crucially, to making it an initiative that would be both community-owned and community-centred, building links between the people who live here, as well as helping find facilities and resources locally.

Community Is A Verb

In June 2011, T3 began a series of community consultations that went on over the next 10 months, initially funded by Wintec and then through the goodwill of researchers and volunteers. At first, information came via written sheets and interviews. The initial feedback from 1253 respondents was encouraging and very exciting, with 98% interested in getting involved as volunteers in projects benefitting valued aspects of the community – if they could find out where to apply their skills: 63% had no idea where to start looking. But 93% valued the people, 80% lifestyle, 79% our physical environment and 62% the rich history.

Support from the Thames Community Board, as part of their Urban Design Planning project, saw the project move ahead in 2013, with the outline for software prepared by Wintec in late 2012 being further developed by local company Digital Guru as the basis for this website: Thames Connect.

Click on one of the links above to find out more...

People – would show up all the people in the database, as points on the map. Would bring up something that would ask for a refinement of the search... such as – “Hover over any point for more information – or are you looking for a particular skill or interests?”

Lifestyle – would show up the lifestyle options covered by map – including rail trail, gym, Zumba, canyoning, cafes, swimming holes, cinema and so on.

Physical Environment – would show features of the environment that people value – eg: river, beach, bush trails, etc

History – would show historical and heritage features from the 1000+/- years of settlement – incl pa sites, marae, Cook's anchorage off Te Puru, the old Kopu Bridge, gold mining features, heritage buildings, maori church, Keith Park memorial, AG Price etc etc.