Published Friday 1 Sep 2023

A time for new beginnings.

Wellington Regional Hospital’s Te Pae Tiaki (Emergency Department) recently said goodbye to the “transitional” prefab building that had been sitting outside the entrance for more than two years.  At the end of July, native Kawakawa and Harakeke were planted to honour Matariki.

With spring kicking-off today, we see the parallels between the celebration of new beginning during the Māori New Year and the arrival of spring. The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer and people are inspired to get their hands dirty out in the garden.

David McQuade, Co-Director of Emergency Training, explained that  “We wanted to honour Matariki, which is a time for remembrance, but it was also the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to the ugly prefab building from out the front of Te Pae Tiaki. For many of us, that building embodied a lot of what was really hard about working in the COVID-19 era. We’re still living with COVID-19, but we’ve adjusted now and some of the extra demands that were put on us are no longer there.”

Representing Whānau Care Services in the ED, Marlin Elkington elaborated on the planting's significance in rejuvenating Te Pae Tiaki.

“It’s looking into the new future” he said.

“This was the perfect place to plant them, and with the help of Bark contractors, Te Pae Tiaki immediately looks much more welcoming,.”

Prior to the communal planting efforts, a karakia was performed. The kawakawa and harakeke plants hold profound significance in rongoā Māori – traditional Māori healing practices.

Kawakawa leaves, in particular, are known for their use in herbal teas. Marlin encouraged those waiting in the ED to feel free to use the Kawakawa leaves, with a friendly reminder to explore the proper method of harvesting via a quick google, before plucking for personal use.