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Jewel in the Shore’s Community Crown

There can surely be few people more deserving of the moniker ‘community gem’ than Joan Lardner-Rivlin. A life in community-based work and a ‘retirement’ as a member of more community organisations than can be counted on two hands, make Joan a true community treasure to behold. She spoke to Channel’s Heather Vermeer on her Takapuna North Trust stomping ground at Mary Thomas Centre on Gibbons Road in Takapuna.

Heather Vermeer: What is your current community involvement?
Joan Lardner-Rivlin:
I’m chair of North Shore Citizens Advice Bureau, Chair of Takapuna North Trust, a YES Disability Board member, Beach Haven/Birkdale Community Project, Kaipatiki Trust, Older Women’s Network, secretary of Auckland District Council of Social Services, I’m on the Age Concern Auckland Board, I’m a VCC (Volunteer Community Co-ordinator) in the office of senior citizens for the MSD, on the Senior Advisory Panel to Auckland Council and volunteer for First Access Radio which runs Planet FM, radio programmes that are broadcast for different ethnic communities in 45 languages.

HV: Quite a list! Have you always been community-minded?
J L-R: Yes, I used to be a community advisor for the Auckland Regional Authority. Many of the community roles I have now are as a result of the networks I had created. I studied Social Work and Social Administration at London School of Economics what was a very long time ago! I’m talking before The Beatles! And have worked in the community field ever since with jobs in Johannesburg, Zambia, Hong Kong before coming to New Zealand in 1972. We moved to Beach Haven and have never moved since!

HV: What do you think is Takapuna’s biggest community need?
J L-R: We need ‘bumping places!’ Places where people can congregate and ‘bump into’ other people. We need a youth centre, where young people can go and socialise without having to go to the bowling alley and spend a fortune! All the halls are hired out for certain events, there is no ‘drop-in’ community facility such as a Community House.

HV: What do you most enjoy about community work?
J L-R: The people!

HV: What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

J L-R: A travel writer. I used to love to read National Geographic and could picture myself travelling to exotic places and seeing sights such as the Taj Mahal at sunset!

HV: I’m sure you don’t have much spare time, but what do you enjoy if you do?
J L-R: I enjoy reading, cross-stich embroidery and crosswords.

HV: In my next life, I’m going to come back as....
J L-R: A community development worker. I’ve done that for over 40 years and it’s great to see things on the Shore that I have had a hand in bringing about. 

by Heather Vermeer