Emma Gibson - Waitakere College

What Makes West Auckland Great?

As many typical westie romances go, my parents were first introduced at a house party in their late teens. Their decision to buy a home together in Henderson makes me a third generation West Aucklander. I am sure their choice to continue living here, where they both had been raised, came from the same things my grandparent’s saw about West Auckland.

Both my father’s and mother’s parents met in West Auckland schools as teenagers. They all emphasise the importance of their grandchildren knowing where they came from. My grandparents tell many intriguing stories about our ancestry and how we ended up out West. As newly married couples they decided this was the most favourable location to raise their children as it had plenty of job opportunities, decent public transport and a friendly community.

It is clear West Auckland has developed further in areas of public transport and work opportunities. The new electric trains are not only more economical and efficient but more importantly new seating arrangements and ramps offer more support and safety to the elderly and disabled members of our community. The Western Rail connects Swanson to Britomart City Centre via Henderson and New Lynn - therefore connecting many of West Auckland’s biggest shopping malls and business areas. This provides access to job opportunities, local shopping and, in the malls, first jobs for many students.

The half hour trip through the scenic green bush towards the beaches of West Auckland is almost as pleasant and refreshing as the actual destination. Once there, we enjoy the unique black sand which we sprint across to the icy water on a hot day. Relaxing strolls we take along the shore to explore the caves make the day complete. Memories of a school camp makes Piha special to me. Through teamwork I had bonded with many people who are still good friends. They cheered me on while I faced my fears and jumped into a freezing waterhole. I still go on journeys to Kitekite Falls and other West Auckland beaches with those same friends today.

My first day at Western Heights Primary School is representative of the kind and encouraging community of humble people who live here. It was both exciting and nerve-racking but I was looked after and shown my way around school by people who too have become my lifelong friends. I am proud to live in an area where everyone is taught to be mindful and supportive of others and where a diverse population of spirited and welcoming people live who value both family and friendship.

Attending Waitakere College I have continued to meet enthusiastic and encouraging people, who have inspired me to continue focusing on my learning and work as hard as I can for the things I want in life. Our student body consists of some amazing people who are ethnically and spiritually diverse. I feel grateful that I have been brought up in West Auckland surrounded by people who are open to accepting and respecting this diversity- something that is rare to find anywhere else in the world.

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