A prayer of blessing was read by John Paul College (Rotorua) principal Patrick Walsh upon the installation of new waharoa (gateway) panels at the school’s redeveloped well-being centre last month.
According to a school newsletter article by counsellors Nancy Macmillan and Neil Carter, the changes to the centre came about because the school wanted to create a space in which all students and visitors feel fully welcomed and cared for. Architect Bernard Needham from Carling Architects was praised for “the awesome design”.
The former facility lacked privacy for students accessing both nursing and counselling services, the newsletter article stated. Students accessing counselling had to wait in a very public place, and this was a significant barrier for many.
“Our building changes align with Mason Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Wha model for understanding Māori health, with the four walls of the whare representing Taha Wairua (Lifting the spirit), Taha Hinengaro (Focusing the mind), Taha Tinana (Strengthening the body), Taha Whanau (Enduring relationships),” the newsletter stated.
Therefore, the building now has “a private central reception space from which visitors access counselling rooms, a nursing treatment room and doctor’s room, recovery room, agency meeting space, and a purpose-designed time-out space for our young people who just need some time in a soothing place to calm themselves before returning to class”.
The centre also features a new external entrance — a waharoa (gateway). “The decorative Māori panels which adorn this have been designed and painted by Riria Morgan and Te Kaiamo Rogers-Smith from Hiwa-I-Te-Rangi Studios, with the help of several of our senior Māori students.”
The centre also has a new name — Te Korowai Maioha — meaning “A cloak of welcome, appreciation, regard, and affection”.
The newsletter thanked many people who had played key roles in bringing the new centre to completion, including Mr Walsh and the college’s board of trustees, for allowing the redevelopment to go ahead.
A formal opening and blessing of Te Korowai Maioha is planned for the near future.