Thursday 27 April was a momentous day for Visionwest – the much-anticipated official opening of Koru Paihere, our new building at 275 Glengarry Road, Glen Eden took place.
This move is significant as a link between the past and the future. It became necessary because of the past growth of community need which saw Visionwest outgrow our Glendale Road site; and the vision of future growth which will see us develop the Glendale Road site to ensure support service delivery for many, many years to come.
The building has offices for around 100 Visionwest staff. This includes members of the Community Housing teams and a number of the administrative staff whose role it is to ensure Visionwest’s support services are able to continue to function efficiently.
The Glengarry building has been gifted the name Koru Paihere.
Koru Paihere – the name
The name Koru Paihere carries significant meaning for Visionwest.
Beyond our organisation, the koru speaks of the potential for new life as, over time, the fern frond will unfold into its full beauty. Within Koru Paihere, “koru” refers specifically to the Visionwest koru. While there are many designs of the koru, the one that makes up Visionwest’s logo contains symbols representing our services and speaks of who we are and why we are here together as a team.
Paihere refers to cords that bind things together. So, together, Koru Paihere has two meanings. For staff it means that, whatever role we have within Visionwest, we are united and bound together as we work to advance the calling and the purpose of our koru.
For client whānau it means that the koru and what it stands for works to untie the things that are holding a person back from achieving their personal wellbeing goals and aspirations. It is a reminder that, when you come to Visionwest, we are here to meet you in your time of need.
Koru Paihere – the building
Koru Paihere is a large three levelled building with a large car park. Formerly owned by the Salvation Army, was purchased by Visionwest in April 2021 and has been renovated to contain offices and meeting facilities.
At the time the building was handed over to Visionwest, Ian Gainsford, then the Salvation Army Divisional Leader, said he was pleased that it would transfer into the hands of a group who shared the same values as the Salvation Army. “Lives have been changed in this building,” he said, “and lives will continue to be changed because of Visionwest’s work here.”
Prior to the official opening, a large number of valued Visionwest partners, supporters, volunteers, and staff gathered in the carpark for two unveilings. First, following karakia led by Matua Fred Astle, our Pou Whakarae, Head of Māori Development, Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Visionwest CEO, Lisa Woolley unveiled the external sign bearing the building’s name.
The second unveiling revealed carved door handles installed on the inner entrance doors. The work of master carver, Laurie Nicholas, the handles feature the koru. This means the hand of each person who enters Koru Paihere must wrap itself around the koru and be reminded of Visionwest’s calling and purpose.
Koru Paihere – the opening
The official opening, led by Fred Astle and members of our Huia Mai team and introduced by Glen Eden Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Gary Grut, involved speeches from Visionwest CEO, Lisa Woolley; Deputy Prime Minister, Carmel Sepuloni; Visionwest Board Chair, Arvind Dayal, and Salvation Army Secretary of Mission, Ian Gainsford.
Lisa Woolley took a brief glance back at the history of Visionwest before looking to the future plans for developing the Glendale site. Lisa acknowledged the previous 35 years of mahi which has seen Visionwest grow from a drop-in centre at the local train station to a provider of wraparound support services overseen by about 1,700 employees. She acknowledged that Koru Paihere represented a big change for the staff working there. In recent years, as the trust has grown, staff have worked out of a range of “less than perfect office spaces” that have included portable buildings and a garage.
Ian Gainsford shared a little of Koru Paihere’s history from a Salvation Army point of view and, just as he had at the key handover two years ago, reminded those gathered that the building had been built as a place of hope and life-transformation. He then spoke of the pleasure felt by himself and former members of the Glen Eden Salvation Army that the focus on community and serving those in need of support would continue.
Carmel Sepuloni acknowledged both Lisa’s leadership and the work of Visionwest as she pointed out that there have been many times when Visionwest has been one step ahead of Government policy. She went on to say that the aspirations Visionwest has for individuals and whānau in the communities of West Auckland are shared by the Government; she and the Government looked forward to working alongside organisations like Visionwest and the Salvation Army in providing answers to the challenges of homelessness and poverty.
It was encouraging also to hear the Deputy Prime Minister acknowledge the role community organisations like Visionwest played during the Covid event, “During the pandemic it was recognised that it’s our community organisations, the ones on the ground, that are able to respond quickly to the needs of our whānau and that any solutions need to be locally lead but centrally supported.” She went onto talk about the proactive role Visionwest played at the frontline of the Auckland weather events and how grateful she was to all Visionwest staff.
Working at Koru Paihere
As mentioned already, Koru Paihere will house around 100 Visionwest staff. This includes members of the Community Housing teams and a number of the administrative staff – Finance, Human Resources, Quality, and Marketing and Partnerships Teams – whose role it is to ensure Visionwest’s support services function efficiently and effectively.
Having these teams working under one roof will mean greater collaboration and provide Visionwest staff with a real sense of being part of something bigger than themselves – together we are passionate and committed to the challenge of transforming our communities through supporting those who are experiencing homelessness, poverty and financial challenges, and mental health challenges at this time.
Those who work at Koru Paihere are also aware that their move from the Glendale Road site opens up the possibility of developing that site to a support service hub that will have a significantly positive affect on West Auckland – the best is yet to come!