Support for parents

It’s a cold, wet winter’s day in Kaikoura, with a fresh dusting of snow powdering the seaward ranges and the sharp promise of more hanging in the air. Despite that, it’s cosily warm inside the McAra House on the town’s Esplanade, with laughter and happy chatter filling the air.

Babies, tots, mums and dads congregate in a large room and catch up over hot coffees and snacks; sharing stories on post-earthquake life, parenthood and the latest community news.

Run by Plunket, with Red Cross covering the building’s rent, the twice-weekly drop-in centre has become a vital place for locals to connect following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on 14 November 2016.

Lee Sharland and one-year-old daughter Kensi at the drop-in centre.

Red Cross volunteer and Plunket community support coordinator Marz Simpson says between 10 and 25 young parents use the drop-in centre every week to connect, listen to guest speakers, and receive any supplies they’re running short of.

“Originally we ran five days a week until Christmas, and have been open Tuesdays and Thursdays since January,” explains Marz. “It’s been extremely well-received, and I don’t know what some young mums would do otherwise.

"This gives them the opportunity to come somewhere warm while their partners work, have adult conversations and learn about baby-related services available in town.”

Support for the elderly

Kaikoura local Sally Graham has learned how to knit again thanks to The Crafty Place.

At the same time, on the other side of town, 'The Crafty Place' drop-in centre on Beach Road is a hive of activity as 10 women come together to talk and meet new people over crafts.

Mondays are dedicated to paper crafts such as scrap-booking, card-making and adult colouring-in, while Thursdays focus on knitting, embroidery, crochet and hook rugs.

Set up after the November earthquakes by Red Cross and run by Red Cross volunteers, The Crafty Place provides a safe haven for older people to connect and meet people over a common interest or past-time.

“Word is getting out there now and we’ve noticed a lot of new people have been starting to come along over the past couple of months,” says Marz. “People are very grateful to have something like this on offer; they keep coming back so it’s obviously needed.

"Some people come to knit and scrapbook, others simply come to relax and have a chat. It’s a lovely atmosphere there.”

Thanks to you

Both drop-in centres have been made possible from the $3.5 million that generous people donated to the New Zealand Red Cross 2016 November Earthquake Appeal. All funds raised through the appeal will be used to help the Kaikoura, Marlborough and Hurunui districts recover from the disaster.