Inspirational oldie helping AIMS shortage

Greenwood Park resident Maureen Habgood, with the St Bernard's College football team heading to next month's AIMS Games. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

Maureen Habgood has always been a problem-solver so when she heard about Tauranga’s accommodation shortage during September’s Anchor AIMS Games, she sprung into action.
The vibrant 78-year-old has galvanised fellow residents in Welcome Bay’s Greenwood Park lifestyle village into opening their homes to students from St Bernard’s College in Wellington for the week-long intermediate-aged tournament.
And in doing so, she hopes she’s set an innovative precedent for future years.
“Last year, reading about the lack of accommodation, I starting thinking that would be so disappointing for schools that wanted to come but couldn’t,” Maureen explained. “I kept reading about how teams had stayed from Waihi to Whakatane, traveling every day, and a little light came on in my head and I thought ‘I’ve got a spare bedroom and so does my neighbour and the person down the drive – why can’t we do something?’”
She approached tournament director Vicki Semple, who loved the idea.
“Every year, there’s an increase in athletes but that’s matched by the generosity of Tauranga residents opening their doors and homes,” Vicki said. “Maureen’s passion and drive for this project has been absolutely incredible and it’s definitely opened up options for us in future.”
That passion was contagious; within weeks, Maureen had secured nearly 40 beds for the visiting athletes.
“I’m really proud of them here,” she said of her fellow residents. “The reaction that I’ve had has just been amazing and management here have been totally supportive. It’s a two pronged thing – I want to demonstrate we can all work together and it will be really good for the residents to have some company and outside interest for the week. My idea was to get into all the Metlife Care Villages this year – luckily there are some moments of clarity and I realised I’d taken on a lot just organising Greenwood Park but next year, look out!”
St Bernard’s is a Catholic boys’ school in Lower Hutt, catering for Year 7-13 students. This will be the school’s first trip to the AIMS Games and director of sport Andrew Cavill said the Greenwood Park offer – the village is set on 17 hectares of landscaped grounds, gardens, a swimming pool, bowling green and restaurant – had been an ideal solution.
“Finding accommodation in Tauranga was a real issue but staying at a lifestyle village will be new and exciting for the boys,” Andrew said. “It will be good for them to be able to stay with an older generation and hopefully the residents will really enjoy having our boys there as company too and will get in behind them. All of sudden, St Bernards might have its own cheer squad for the week and we hope the connection there can continue on.”
St Bernard’s will field teams in rugby sevens, basketball, football and water polo, as well as sending individuals for the likes of cross country and swimming.
Cross country and rugby sevens are held at Welcome Bay’s Waipuna Park, just down the road from Greenwood Park, which was how sports-loving Maureen – who still plays bowls three times a week – came to love the tournament.
“I used to go all the time with my late husband Des and watch the cross country on the opening day. I’ve always read the papers and kept an interest in things but this tournament is part of Tauranga – it’s been going for so long and it’s so great for the competitors to experience something like this.”
Besides, it gives the super-fit septuagenarian something else to get her teeth into; already this year, she’s helped Greenwood Park collect and distribute several trailer-loads of necessities for flood-struck Edgecumbe residents.
“I’ve always believed that you always contribute more into the world, than you ever expect to take out of it,” she said.

Greenwood Park resident Maureen Habgood, with the St Bernard's College football team heading to next month's AIMS Games. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
Greenwood Park resident Maureen Habgood, with the St Bernard’s College football team heading to next month’s AIMS Games. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

1 Comment

  1. We gave 2 beds for anyone who wants 1 double and 1 queen.. and a pull out couch… just have to put up with 2 small dogs that will love u to death

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