HomeNewsOpening of new UCOL Te Pūkenga healthcare education centre celebrated

Opening of new UCOL Te Pūkenga healthcare education centre celebrated

By UCOL on Friday, 24 February 2023

Scott Gibbons cuts opening ribbon as MP Tangi Utikere and Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall look on

UCOL Te Pūkenga Manawatū were delighted to host the official opening today of the new healthcare and social services building, named Te Whaioranga.

Executive Director, UCOL Business Division, Brian Trott, says it was a wonderful celebration which reflected the amount of aroha shared throughout the project and the local industry support for the centre. 

“We were honoured to have the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall, and MP for Palmerston North Tangi Utikere at the event alongside major stakeholders and community partners from throughout the health sector who have all been supporting the project from the sidelines over the years.”

During the Minister’s speech, Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall spoke of rebuilding the capacity of our healthcare industry.

“In the provincial areas, it is so important that we are able to train people in the communities and areas in which they are from. These provincial areas especially struggle to recruit internationally in comparison with our large centres like Auckland. On the flipside, for those special people who are training to enter our healthcare workforce it is often a preference for them to be able to give back to their communities through their work. I look forward to seeing the difference this superb building will make to your students and your community.”

Nursing lecturer teaching nursing students
Caption (from left): UCOL Te Pūkenga Nursing Lecturer Heather Gudsell, student Macaulay 'Mac' Diment, Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Ayesha Verrall

The event allowed attendees to tour the building guided by expert academic kaimahi (staff) who explained each of the learning spaces and laboratories, while ākonga put their practical skills to use, enhancing the experience.

Reflecting on the project journey, Executive Dean of Health, Social Services, and Applied Sciences, Penny O’Leary, says it has been a significant one, and to reach this point with minimal hiccups along the way is exceptional.

“This project has had so many helping hands along the way, beginning back in 2019. We are so excited to breathe invigorated life into the building many will know as the former PSA House and create this spectacular learning centre for our ākonga (learners).”

“The name Te Whaioranga, which means pursuing health and wellness, was gifted to us by mana whenua Rangitāne o Manawatū. The facility is unique to our region and provides an environment which facilitates inter-disciplinary learning (applied learning to simulate the ‘real world’). Ākonga will be able to work together across functions as they would in the real world. This includes hospital and home environments, and medical imaging labs.”

The lucky cohort of ākonga who will be learning in Te Whaioranga, also known as Block 15, are studying across the areas of nursing, medical imaging, social services, health and wellbeing, and mental health.

“These ākonga will have ownership of the facility, which will aid in their ability to self-direct and help them to better manage their studies and time management.”

“We were fortunate to be able to hold a separate blessing for the facility last month, with Kaumatua Papa Manu and Whaea Lorraine, mana whenua of Rangitāne o Manawatū leading the proceedings.

“Since then, our Faculty staff have moved into the office space on the second floor, preparing for our ākonga to begin study for the year, with our first group learning in the space just last week.”

In 2022, Gibbons, a family-owned property investment company based in Nelson, purchased the building, entering into a long-term lease with UCOL.

Scott Gibbons, Managing Director of Gibbons, is pleased to have had the opportunity to invest in the growth of Palmerston North and the wider Manawatū area by adding a healthcare education facility to the family portfolio.

“Gibbons is proud to be working with UCOL Te Pūkenga and excited to officially open the new healthcare education facility at their Manawatū campus.

“This project is our first in partnership with the public sector, and we are delighted it is centred on education and health, as these are two sectors the Gibbons family have had long-standing community connections with.”

“Gibbons is committed to investing in national projects that have a legacy/growth focus, and we believe Te Whaioranga here at UCOL Te Pūkenga will have a significant positive long-term effects for the wider community in the Manawatū.”

“We appreciate the efforts of our design team, project managers, and contractors in their exceptional delivery of the project during what have been trying times. The facility will provide the perfect home for the next generation of healthcare heroes to hone their skills.”

Key people in the healthcare education centre project
From left: Scott Gibbons (Managing Director Gibbons Holdings), Dr. Linda Sissons, Brian Trott, Penny O'Leary, and Simon Hall and Ben Wisbey (both JBT Architects)