Construction on Wellington City Mission’s new facility begins

Concept of the cafe.

2021-10-14 12:30:59

Ground will finally break on Wellington’s new City Mission facility tomorrow.

Concept of the cafe.

A concept drawing of the cafe which will form part of Wellington City’s Mission’s new community hub, Whakamaru.
Photo: Supplied

The community hub, Whakamaru, meaning ‘to shelter, to safeguard, to protect’, will be on Oxford Terrace in Mt Cook and operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

City Missioner Murray Edridge said after years of planning he was ecstatic to finally be at the building stage.

“This is an amazing day for us. We’ve had nearly three years of planning for this building and to see it get to this stage, which is the start of the physical stuff where the building will start to come down and then the new building will emerge, is just awesome.”

The project would include 35 supportive housing units that residents could live in for up to a year, while accessing the other services and support available from the Mission.

These include public bathrooms and showers with 24-hour access, a commercially equipped laundry, a commercial kitchen and a training kitchen.

Alongside this would be a community cafe accessible to the public, as well as conference facilities, a sacred space for prayer, and a music and performance space.

The hub would also include a social supermarket, where those who relied on food parcels could choose their own food from supermarket shelves, without having to pay.

Edridge said the design was carefully thought out to maximise a feeling of community and togetherness.

“We did a lot of research overseas and looked at what other people were doing.

“We spent some time in Australia looking at innovative social housing and community services delivery. We found what we were looking for in the middle of Kings Cross in Sydney – ironically in wayside Chapel – where they have this philosophy of creating community without difference, community where there’s no us and them.”

Construction was supposed to begin last month but was delayed while designers re-drew some of the plans, to work around inflated costs brought on by the pandemic.

Mayor Andy Foster said it was great to see it finally start to take shape, but there was certainly more to do to address homelessness and social services need in the city.

“There’s always going to be need but bit-by-bit the City Mission is doing a great job. The council, the government, a lot of other players as well – this is a partnership – everybody plays their part and we look after the people who are the least well off in our community.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson today pledged an extra $5 million to the $40m project.

The government had already committed $10m under its shovel-ready scheme and the rest of the money would come from donors and fundraising.

Completion of the project was expected in mid-2023.

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