Mayor Lianne Dalziel officially opened the organisation’s rebuilt main office, “Te Korowai – The Home of Presbyterian Support Upper South Island”, at 9am on Monday, June 24, 2019. Hutika Crofts-Gibbs of Ngāi Tūāhuriri performed a blessing with support from Rev Dr Matthew Jack of Knox Church.
The building’s name, Te Korowai (meaning cloak), signifies safety, strength, and connection for both staff and clients alike. A gifted korowai will permanently reside at Te Korowai. The cloak, along with a pounamu (greenstone), will help form a significant spiritual and cultural presence within the building.
“Incorporating tikanga Māori into the way we work reflects our cultural policy and our goal to recognise the unique position of manawhenua and develop partnerships with iwi, marae and Māori providers.”
Designed by Dalman architects and built by Contract Construction of Christchurch, Te Korowai will house about 60 staff, including corporate and service employees. Some frontline staff will support clients onsite through counselling and group parenting programmes; others will work offsite through services such as Mana Ake, Social Workers in Schools, day programmes for older people, and community social work.
“But wherever they are or may be working, staff and clients can relax in the sense of belonging and connection they receive through PSUSI, which is invoked by the name Te Korowai,” said Milner.
Approximately 30 social work/counselling clients and 140 Youth Service clients will visit Te Korowai each week for individual appointments. In the weeks when group programmes are held these numbers will be 10% higher.
Te Korowai’s interior is designed to be warm and welcoming to help relax clients who may be feeling anxious. On the ground floor a reception with discreet waiting area includes a playroom for young children. Counselling will be offered in comfortable offices designed with privacy and safety in mind. A large seminar room will comfortably accommodate 40 people.
“We are pleased to have a renewed sense of place and purpose at Te Korowai and to continue supporting community wellbeing through our work,” said Milner, who retires this week. He will be replaced by new CEO Barry Helem.
The original PSUSI building at 44 Bealey Ave was irreparably damaged in the Christchurch earthquake of February 2011. PSUSI staff moved to temporary premises at 25 Churchill Street in November 2017, just before the building’s demolition.