UCOL | Te Pūkenga is set to embark on a series of exciting renovations, focusing on the campus entrance and Te Whare Huihuinga - Whanganui whānau room.
The renovations aim to provide a visually significant entranceway that respects the cultural heritage of local iwi, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi, and to better integrate the whānau room, which serves as a hub for student support and connection.
According to UCOL's Executive Dean Engineering & Applied Technologies, Danny Reilly, these renovations represent a significant milestone in UCOL's commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all kaimahi (staff) and ākonga (students).
"The river is an integral part of the identity and history of Whanganui iwi. We heard some concerns about the current tin fence obstructing the view and it seemed like an easy thing to fix. It's important to us that the whānau room and entranceway have a strong visual connection to the awa, so these two projects are closely tied together."
Reilly expressed his excitement.
"We have been working closely with Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi to design an entranceway that reconnects the awa with our campus. Our architects have developed an exciting concept that includes a transparent fence looking out to the awa. In the centre of the entranceway will be two large gates, so it feels like the campus is more opened up too."
Alongside this is the whānau room project, which Reilly says is an important campus support mechanism.
"The whānau room is a place of welcome and support for all kaimahi and ākonga, offering Māori specific services such as mihi whakatau (welcoming new staff), karakia and waiata (morning prayer and song), counselling services, a meeting space, and a comfortable place to relax and connect. With the upcoming renovations, we aim to transform it into a cosier space with increased functionality, including kitchen facilities."
Reilly also emphasised the importance of these renovations for Māori kaimahi and ākonga.
"The relocation and development of the Whanganui whānau room is long overdue. We are excited to bring it inside the main complex and make it a more integral part of our campus. We hope that this will help our Māori kaimahi and ākonga feel more connected in campus life."
With the entranceway design now complete and the whānau room project going out for tender shortly, UCOL is looking forward to getting started on the projects soon.
The Whanganui whānau room is expected to be completed by the end of this year, and the campus entranceway by early 2024.