Please help find Wilson

Wilson, who was stolen from a tree in Greerton Village



The public are being asked to help find 'Wilson –' a knitted rugby player who was ripped off a yarn bombed tree in Greerton Village last Thursday.

“We think some dirty scumbag has come along and ripped him off,” says Arohanui Trust general manager Peter Gibson.

The yarn bombing community project has been part of the activities for the Arohanui Art and Education Trust Greerton Centre for a number of years now, says Peter.

“This year we went all out. The theme was ‘kiwiana’ and we nicknamed the rugby player ‘Wilson’ after the Tom Hanks movie.”

Arohanui Art and Education Trust, which also has centres in Gate Pa and Te Puke, provides services for adults with disabilities in Tauranga and Te Puke.

“The yarn bombing was part of our Greerton Centre mainstream programme. It’s a community project that we’ve been involved in for a number of years. Our people with disabilities have worked on our design for about six months over the COVID lockdown.

The charitable trust was hoping to win a prize this year.

“We were trying really hard for the guys to win the prize, so we could get some sensory equipment and some bits and pieces,” says Peter.

People can vote online for their favourite trees in the Greerton Village Yarn Bombing competition and there is $2500 in cash prizes up for grabs.

“The prize money would have gone towards the clients and we would have bought resources, or some equipment for the sensory room.”

“At the moment we’re setting up a woodworking project for some of the people at the Greerton Centre. We want to buy some machinery for that and make it safe.

“We also have a multi-sensory room, for which we want to update iPads and handheld equipment that have a tactile sensory aspect.”

The trust provides services to about 70 families in the Tauranga and Te Puke area, with about 25 staff working across the three centres.

“They come to us for day services during the day, Monday to Friday. It’s a life-skills community based programme.”

Arohanui Trust has been running for about 20 years since 1999. Programmes include art and craft programmes and foundation life skills such as cooking, sewing, literacy and numeracy, computers, social and grooming skills and personal development. There is the opportunity for community volunteering with food vans, Meals on Wheels, Cancer Society, Red Cross, Blind Foundation and rest home visits, and community outings where the organisation looks at what is happening in the community and where possible has a policy of ‘community based activities first’. Work experience, employment options, recreation, well-being, and a transition service from the last year of school to Arohanui services are also provided.

“We’re quite frugal. We try and make money go as far as we can when we fundraise, and we look at different inventive ways for coming up with things that people like.”

“I sent an email through to Council to see if they can check their CTV. I haven’t heard back from them as of yet.

“It’s just disappointing that people would do something like that. Our clients are very disappointed too.”

Anyone who took Wilson or who knows his whereabouts is asked to leave Wilson at the base of the tree, no questions asked, or return him to one of the shops nearby.

The trees are on full display in Greerton Village until August 23. Manual voting is available at eight locations in Greerton Village - look out for the window posters to see where, or vote online. Voting closes at 10am on Friday, August 14, and winners will be announced on Monday, August 17.

This year’s theme ‘Aotearoa: What it Means to me’ has resonated with many people viewing the designs in Greerton Village and was particularly appropriate given the pandemic across the world.


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