Mauri stone marks milestone for new mental health build


Mauri stone ceremony binds land and blessing for mental health building.

Another milestone for the replacement Te Whatu Ora Mauri Ora Mental Health Acute Inpatient Unit in Lakes was celebrated today with the laying of a mauri stone at the Rangiuru St site.

Ngāti Whakaue representatives, as mana whenua, attended the early morning ceremony, with Dr Anaha Hiini performing the karakia and blessing of the stone.

A mauri stone ceremony sees the mauri instilled by way of karakia Māori into the selected stone and buried to secure vitality in the land and ensure a successful journey throughout the build, says Dr Hiini.

A Ngāti Whakaue representative Kingi Biddle, who welcomed attendees to the early morning ceremony, says a mauri stone ceremony is important to iwi.

“Ngāti Whakaue has been involved in this project since its inception. The mauri stone is a recognition of the status that mātauranga Māori has in the healing of a person. It also acknowledges the role that we as tangata whenua have to play for our tāngata whaiora and their whānau – families. In essence the living essence of Te Ara Tauwhirotanga, our model of care, will be present throughout the building.”

The mauri stone was found on site during the earthworks which began in November 2022.

Te Whatu Ora Interim Lead Hospital and Specialist Services for Lakes, Alan Wilson says a large amount of earth is being moved and a platform prepared to ready the Rangiuru St site for the building. Some of the moved earth will then be placed back and left for some months to settle the ground beneath. The fill will be removed prior to work commencing on the foundations.

It is expected construction will begin mid-2023, dependent on the settlement, and all going well, the building is expected to be completed mid-2025 at a cost of $31 million.

Alan Wilson says the replacement facility will have 16 beds with the potential to expand to 20 in the future. The configuration of the bedrooms (in pods of four) will allow different cohorts to be grouped together for example; older people or people with vulnerabilities or who require a safe, low stimulus environment with more intensive nursing.

The new, purpose-built facility will ensure the provision of modern, mental health and addiction services which will be safe and theraputic for staff and tangata whaiora (service users). It will support a focus on the healing and wellbeing of whaiora by incorporating strong kaupapa Māori design principles. For example, the whare manaaki to enable a culturally appropriate space for therapy such as rongoā.

Mental health and addiction staff, iwi and consumers have worked with architects, engineers and project managers on the detailed design of the building. The design of the new building is also driven by a new model of care, Te Ara Tauwhirotanga Pathways that lead us to act with kindness, that is also guiding the development of the sector.