Winds of change

Manaaki Ora`s new wellness centre is designed to meet their aspirations of creating a culturally representative home for the counselling and support services they provide – providing a welcoming, inclusive, non-clinical facility that their community will feel comfortable and at home in.

Through a deep process of collaboration and exploration we developed a design response that captures the unique identity and approach of Manaaki Ora. The design is shaped by the journey of the Te Arawa people to Aotearoa and the waka hourua that carried them. Key design references include the Pacific Ocean, the peril of the journey and the resilience of the Te Arawa people, the main sails of the waka hourua and the eight beating hearts of Te Arawa.

The exterior design sets the stage for the interior spaces to follow. The user experience is shaped so the building functions like a vertical Marae. Visitors flow from the street through the Waharoa as the ground floor entryway leading to the first floor as the Te Whare Wānanga (The Meeting House) and second floor as the Te Wāhi o Nga Ringawera (The Place of the Workers).

Multiple layers of secondary cultural integration work to strengthen the move away from a clinical environment to one where cultural identity, comfort, protection and safety are celebrated – while signifying a connection to the past and people that have gone before.