Sylvia Gillard and Suzanne King have lived in Whare Tiaki, since it opened two years ago and say they enjoy having care and support while being able to carry on living independent lives.

At nearly 70, Suzanne goes out to work as a part-time hairdresser and carries out research and secretarial work for her marae at Kaikōura. Likewise, Sylvia, 84, throws herself into the community. She’s often out catching the bus to the local library, doing some gardening, playing bowls or visiting friends at WesleyCare. When a fractured arm slowed her down a bit recently, she was relieved to be in supported living.

Whare Tiaki is another example of the commitment of the Christchurch Methodist Mission to kaumātua in Ōtautahi/Christchurch and to bi-culturalism. Most residents are Māori or have Māori marital connections. Some are related.

Whare Tiaki follows a kaupapa Māori approach of shared values, interests and beliefs. Residents follow news from marae and attend tangi or hui-ā-iwi, or specific events such as the recent 150th celebrations at Rāpakichurch, eeling at Taumutu or Waitangi Day events.

The unit is warm and welcoming, with occupancy limited to eight residents. Each person has their own bedroom with en suite and share communal living and dining facilities. Residents come together to share meals, including two hot meals a day. They enjoy a lot of kiwi food – a boil up now and then, but otherwise roasts or silverside, sausages or mince. All the while, George the dog keeps everyone amused.

Could communal living lead to disagreements between residents? Kaiāwhina, Willow WiParata, is akin to the house mum and says that with respect among residents the answer is no. “There’s a large degree of belonging and of trust,” Willow says. “The communal aspect makes it different to other such places. Residents respect one another, which makes them closer. It’s an unspoken rule that they show discretion in the Whare.”

Family and visitors are welcome to join in the life of Whare Tiaki. “Manaakitanga (hospitality) comes before most things. Everyone fits in with each other’s families and everyone’s welcome to stay for food,” Willow says.

If you know of someone who might be interested in making Whare Tiaki home, please contact Willow at willoww@mmsi.org.nz.

Whare Tiaki residents

Sylvia Gillard and Suzanne King enjoy living in the supported and caring environment of Whare Tiaki