Intergenerational kaumātua village helps Kirikiriroa achieve age-friendly status

Trustees of Rauawaawa Kāumatua Charitable Trust. Photo: Rauawaawa Kāumatua Charitable Trust

An iwi-led housing project designed to ensure kaumātua of Kirikiriroa are safe, secure and well cared for is being recognised for its role in helping Hamilton become New Zealand’s first age-friendly city.

Te Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust provides free health, social, educational, cultural, recreational, housing and transport support services to those over the age of 55. The village was developed and is owned by Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa and is a kaumātua governed and led organisation.

The project was used as an example in Hamilton city’s successful application to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Being age-friendly just makes sense and that’s why we took on supporting this kaupapa,” explains Trust CEO Rangimahora Reddy. “The reason the age-friendly status is so important is because it’s helped us create a movement that’s significant enough to get decision-makers to pay attention.”

Research funded by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge – to be published in December – is helping the non-profit organisation develop a model of best practice for other communities who want to create the same inclusive model elsewhere.

“Recently members of the Challenge visited Rauawaawa and the most poignant moment was when two kuia talked about how safe and secure they felt living there because the village has a real whānau led-approach,” explains Challenge Director Māori, Dr Jessica Hutchings.

“Our research is not only about validating the effectiveness of what they do at Rauawaawa and helping create a tool so others can do the same, it’s also providing the scientific evidence needed to prove the ongoing benefits to residents, the community and the country that come from investing in culturally responsive, age friendly housing.”

At Rauaawawa, a wide range of free services and programmes are provided to help kaumātua feel safe and warm, including nurses visits, and access to a gym, mirimiri and community classes, such as te reo, carving and korowai (cloak weaving).

The village was developed and built by Te Rūnanga of Kirkiriroa. Te Rauawawa Charitable Kaumātua Trust was then created to provide the wrap-around services.

Their unique model was as a response to seeing more kaumātua present as homeless and the village opened in 2013.

“It’s not about the buildings, it’s about what you enable through the buildings,” explains Rangimahora. “They are a mechanism to help facilitate people being safe, secure and healthy.”

It’s why Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities are studying this Hamilton success story to help other communities follow the same path in creating age-friendly housing for generations.

“Building Better are helping us share what this village is all about and how we did it,” says Rangimahora. “They have opened us up to a doorway of experts who are helping document what we’ve done and create a tool so others can short-cut this journey.”

Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Background Notes

Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) is one of 11 National Science Challenges, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE). BBHTC undertakes world-class research to shape New Zealand’s built environment and strengthen communities. The Challenge develops findings that will empower public, planners and policymakers with reliable information and new tools for fresh thinking and better decisions. The Challenge is discovering new pathways to address the long-standing housing challenges of our most disadvantaged and to support Māori into healthy homes.

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Date posted: 20 August 2018