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Te Puna Hāpori – An iwi-led whānau and community wellbeing vision for Whanganui

Local iwi, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and New Zealand Police along with the Whanganui Mayor have collaborated to develop Te Puna Hāpori, a shared vision of uniting the community to provide better social outcomes.

“Our ultimate goal for this project is to strengthen, empower, protect and endure our family”, Nicole Beckham, Kaiwhakahaere, Tupoho Investments Limited.

In 2019, Ministry of Justice were invited to Whanganui to meet the Whanganui Land Settlement Negotiation Trust. During the meeting Chris Baldwin, Project Director, MoJ, recalled “We quickly realised it was more than a property project, but a bigger opportunity to look at what else we could do to provide wrap around services that can make a difference to how the justice system operates in Whanganui.”

From these discussions they found there was a real desire for change and improving whānau and community wellbeing.

A governance group was created with iwi, NZ Police, MoJ and the Whanganui Mayor to oversee the project. For iwi, it was important from the beginning to create a foundational document to outline the values of the project and ensure these were upheld throughout.

The agencies placed emphasis on listening and learning to those at the ground level. They engaged with iwi, hapu, the wider community and people with lived experience of the court process to ensure everyone’s voices were heard and impacted the design of the site and system.

“We as kaitiaki, as guardians, realised there is definitely a need for our courthouse, our police hub, but there is definitely a need for those to be all in one and this is where Te Puna Hāpori came from.”

Working together, they have secured a shared space on the former UCOL site for justice and social services. Plans include the existing marae, a new courthouse and a police hub with the potential for iwi health and social services in the future.

“Puna is a spring and Hāpori is our community, so when we think about the site, we want it to be a spring of all of these community services that feed into each other.” Nicole Beckham, Kaiwhakahaere, Tupoho Investments Limited.

Because of their joint commitment of improving whānau wellbeing, they realised the building’s designs were an important enabler for the new approach they wanted to see in justice services. It was an opportunity to do something different, to make sure whānau were at the centre of the design.

“The purpose of Te Puna Hāpori is not just about a new building, it is about a new relationship and therefore designing a space that we can deliver better social outcomes, which is what we really should be looking at as government,” says Marie Rodgers, Project Director, NZ Police.

The governance group is now working together on the design phase and are collaborating to ensure there is a cohesive design between the buildings. They are creating spaces that work for the site, rather than making the site work for them, as the land these properties will sit on will go back to iwi as part of treaty negotiations.

They also have plans to approach local businesses to help with the construction of the new buildings, supporting the local economy to achieve their shared vision.

To hear more about their learnings, check out the recording of this recent Knowledge Hour on Hīkina:

Hīkina - Learning for Government Procurement and Property