The Devonport Community House (DCH) first opened its doors in 1979 and is a well-loved and -valued part of the Devonport community. Excitingly, a new team running DCH is injecting fresh ideas and energy into the place. Marketing and Activations Manager Justine Kinsella is one of those people. She’s very motivated and passionate about what the House can bring and the role it can play in our community. Channel Mag’s Aidan Bennett caught up with Justine in mid-November to find out what is happening at DCH and their plans for 2022 and beyond.
AIDAN BENNETT: Justine, welcome to Channel Mag and congratulations on your new role. Can you tell us a bit about your background and who the other new members of the team are at the House?
JUSTINE KINSELLA: Thank you! I was born and raised in Devonport and absolutely love everything about being on the peninsula. I went to Hauraki School and then to Diocesan School for Girls for my high school years.
After studying at Victoria University and the Music & Audio Institute of New Zealand, I worked in the music industry as a booking agent managing shows and tours for some amazingly talented artists. After that, I moved into the marketing and events world both here and then later in London where I had six wonderful, exciting, full-on years!
My partner Mike and I had our daughter Daphne in London and shortly after decided it was time to move back home. Last year, my son Huxley arrived right in the middle of the pandemic, and here we are!
Working alongside me at the House is our new House Manager, Justin Mitchell, and Deb Farmer, managing our accounts.
AB: Devonport Community House is a community facility owned by Auckland Council. What are the services and facilities that are available to the public at Clarence Street?
JK: We have fantastic facilities available at the House. Alongside our five versatile rooms which are available to hire, we have a fully equipped kitchen, carparking on site, a ramp to our upstairs rooms and a fully fenced outdoor area.
We also have a van, and coordinate an elderly-shoppers' run each week, where we pick up members of our community, take them to New World and support them with their grocery shop. This is a very important service for many of our shoppers who take part, so we’re working on plans to develop this into a more regular service so we can open up to more members of our elderly community.
AB: What sort of groups and people use the House at the moment on a regular basis?
JK: We have such a variety of things happening at the House! These include the Devonport Toy Library, Devonport Repair Café, yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, Mums' fitness classes, table tennis, art and knitting groups, Salsa, Jiu-Jitsu, te reo classes, Sports 4 Tots, playgroup and more!
AB: You obviously see loads of potential for ‘new activity’ at the House. What are the sort of new things you would like to see happening?
JK: I am such a big supporter of trying new things, so the opportunities are endless! We have two wonderful art rooms at the House, so I would love to see more art-based groups using these. We don’t have any photography-based activity at the House at the moment, so that would be cool too.
I’m also passionate about supporting our local parents and their children, so we have some exciting plans in the pipeline for our pre-school playgroup and a parenting workshop series in 2022. Watch this space!
AB: We are excited that you are going to be providing a regular Devonport Community House column for Channel Mag readers in 2022. What are your plans for the House in 2022 and beyond?
JK: We’re working on a number of projects at the moment that range from updating some of the interiors of the House to make it feel a little more welcoming and vibrant, to reviewing our term timetable and activities and working to bring in anything we think would add value to our programme, whether that be through regular classes or one-off workshops and events.
I’m particularly excited about giving our mezzanine area a revamp and turning this into a lovely community lounge! We see this as an integral part of our vision to evolve the House into a community hub for everyone to enjoy, escape the hustle and bustle of the village and to meet their friends and have a cuppa!
AB: You’ve got such an accessible place in Devonport, right in the village, it must be fun to be part of that vibe. Do you have any plans to have more activations or connections with businesses and other organisations in the village?
JK: I love the vibe and have really been missing it through the recent lockdowns. Yes, yes and yes! We would love to connect with more businesses in the local community and we’re already well on our way with this. We are also working with the IB students at TGS who we feel could be instrumental in helping us identify what the House could bring for the younger generations.
Events and activations are such a passion of mine, so I will definitely be looking to incorporate more of these into our calendar next year.
AB: You’ve been at Devonport Community House for a few months now. What are you enjoying about the role?
JK: Pre-lockdown I loved meeting and getting to know all our hirers and community members who come in and use the House. Being at home over the last few months has given me time to take a step back and really look at our place within the community and how we can make it even better. It’s very exciting!
AB: What are your passions outside your work at Devonport Community House?
JK: Spending time with my family. My kids are at very busy ages so we’re on the go, a lot! We love discovering new parks, playgrounds, and walks around Auckland.
AB: Complete the following: At the end of 2021 I am looking forward to…
JK: … Getting on the plane to Arrowtown in December to spend Christmas there with my whole family. Can’t wait!
For more information, contact Justine via email at
email@example.com or phone Ph 445 3068.
Meet the DEVONPORT COMMUNITY HOUSE team…
Justin Mitchell – House Manager: Justin is a local dad with 3 boys at Vauxhall School. He has lived in both Australia and Chile but has always returned to the peninsula and loves the sense of community everyone shares. He's excited with the potential to help grow the community house and create a real hub of activity for all locals to enjoy.
Justine Kinsella – Marketing & Activations Manager: Justine was born and bred in Devonport. She has worked in marketing and events management for over 10 years both here and in London. Justine has a partner Mike, and two young children, Daphne and Huxley who keep her busy outside of work. Justine is very much looking forward to continuing the work in making the Devonport Community House a valued and loved part of our community.
Deb Farmer – Accounts: Having grown up in Auckland, Deborah has lived in Devonport for a number of years. A mum of three teenagers, Deborah is very happy to be joining the Community House team and is a firm believer in sustaining community spirit. In her spare time she enjoys the gym and walking along nearby beaches with her dog Bindi.