Minister Nanaia Mahuta (centre) celebrating the opening of stage 1 of the Rauawaawa Age-friendly Facility Upgrade with their Kaumātua Kapa Haka roopu. Photo: Megan Lacey.
Minister Nanaia Mahuta cut the ribbon to reveal stage 1 of Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust’s age-friendly facility upgrade on 31 January.
It has taken three years to complete the first stage of Te Puna o Te Ora’s much-needed improvements but the Hamilton Kaumātua service provider now boasts a new and improved health wing.
A BBHTC researcher from Phase 1 of the Challenge, Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust chief executive, Rangimahora Reddy, says completing stage 1 of the facility upgrade is a huge achievement for the organisation, the kaumātua it serves, and all who helped bring this part of the vision to fruition.
“Back in 1941, the Minister of Native Affairs opened the entire build. It’s fitting that close to 79 years later, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Māori Development (previously known as Native Affairs) open the completion of this important stage.
“It would be wonderful if we were able to celebrate Te Puna o Te Ora’s 80th anniversary with an opening for Stage 2. It’s a $3m build, so we’ll need a lot more friends to help us along the next journey.”
Rangimahora says it has always been important that kaumātua who were part of the facility upgrade vision would be part of the opening. “Sadly, we’ve lost quite a few kaumātua during the last three years and it would’ve been beautiful to have them at this opening. Our minds will no doubt reflect on those who can’t be there in person. But it’s heartening that we’ve completed an important part of the dream and still have many with us who can experience the opening and use our facilities because that’s what this journey is about.”
Rangimahora says that while there is a growing ageing population, there is very little infrastructure in New Zealand to meet current needs, let alone future needs where one in four in New Zealand are forecasted to be over 65 by 2040.
“More age-friendly places for kaumātua to gather, socialise, participate, learn, and seek support is needed. It seems a shame that investment in playgrounds, sports centres, and theatres often miss the opportunity to incorporate great age-friendly features that would make these spaces more inclusive and safer for a population that is growing.
“The facility upgrade kaupapa has certainly pushed us outside of our boundaries but in a really good way – from a Fight Night for kaumātua to abseiling the Deloitte building as a collaborative fundraising effort under the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s ‘Drop your Boss’ event. We’ve done some amazing things with the help of some wonderful people.
“Every hand helps in achieving the final goal. Completing Stage 1 is a statement of confidence for us – it’s a visual reminder that if you set your mind to it, irrespective of what the starting bank balance looks like, with a great team, hard work, commitment and really good friends in different places great things can be achieved.”
At Rauawaawa, a wide range of free services and programmes are provided to help kaumātua feel safe and warm. Five key areas of service delivery for Rauawaawa are Health and Wellbeing, Welfare, Education, Recreation, and Housing. Although not an owner of housing, Rauawaawa has worked closely with Te Rūnanga o Kirkiriroa that have developed and built two kaumātua villages where Rauawaawa provide the wrap-around services.
This unique kaumātua housing model was a response to the growing numbers of kaumātua presenting as homeless. The first village was opened in 2012.
Research funded by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge helped the non-profit Trust develop a model of best practice for other communities who want to create a similar inclusive model elsewhere.
“The Building Better National Science Challenge has helped us share what this village is all about,” says Rangimahora. “They put us in touch with experts who helped us document what we’ve done and create a tool so others can short-cut this journey.”
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