This project was developed as a response to the need identified by community organisations in South Taranaki who were struggling to find affordable premises from which to run their services. The Foundation explored the nature of this need and in the process identified a number of organisations who were interested in co-locating with other services to provide their satellite staff with co-workers, a suitable office environment, saving in overheads and a chance to enhance service delivery. The concept of having a cluster of services which did not compete for funding but were similar enough to complement each other was developed. The Hawera community had previously tried to develop a Community House so we were able to learn from this previous experience to ensure this project did not run into the same obstacles.
The Foundation approached the development of the physical space collaboratively working with local changemakers to achieve their vision for the space. Early on the opportunity arose to work with the Hawera Methodist Church to re-purpose their Doris Swaddling Hall as a collaborative social service centre. Both prospective tenant organisations and the owners of the building, the Methodist Church, were then engaged in a design process. Funding for the renovation of this existing building was achieved through a corporate partner in the KUPE Joint Venture headed by Origin Energy with the agreement that the ongoing rental income from the House was reinvested into the upkeep of the building and other social development opportunities to ensure a sustainable future.
Chris Bush, Origin Energy New Zealand’s General Manager at the time, said on behalf of the Kupe Joint Venture that “we are delighted to help provide the practical and financial support needed for this community development initiative. We are committed to making a positive difference in the communities near our operations and our Origin volunteers were thrilled to lend a hand to show their support for the South Taranaki community,”
Four inaugural operational partners were confirmed who would become the anchor tenants for the project with the Foundation facilitating their input and engagement with the use, design, layout and set up of the building so that it met their combined needs. The Foundation organised a series of collaboration workshops for tenant organisations which also enabled the tenants to build an effective collaborative working relationship. It was agreed that expecting organisations to be able to co-locate and immediately succeed in collaborative relationships would be a mistake so all the partners committed to a process to build the collaborative environment.
Further collaboration was achieved through a community process to agree on the naming of the building as Taiohi Oranga Hawera Social Services House. Alongside the gifting of the building from the Church to the community sector the naming process ensured that Taiohi Oranga became a community owned space. The result saw organisations share a common space, refer clients to each other’s services, share professional standards for the treatment of their clients and proactively work together rather than co-exist as they had done previously. At the opening tenants commented that:
“The combination of support offered by Origin, other KUPE Joint Venture Partners and local groups alongside the leadership of the Bishop’s Action Foundation has meant this community’s vision to extend their social services has become a reality.”
Following a blessing from Te Taha Maori, the local Maori Methodist Church, on 9th June, Taiohi Oranga was officially opened on 25th June 2010 and continues to serve the local community. The Foundation provided support for the first few years of operation before handing over the running of the building to Te Taha Maori.