Dawn blessing for Massey’s new ‘Student Central’

Press Release – Massey University

Some 100 staff, students and supporters attended a dawn blessing for the new student amenities centre and steel pou at the Albany campus on Wednesday.
Dawn blessing for Massey’s new ‘Student Central’

Some 100 staff, students and supporters attended a dawn blessing for the new student amenities centre and steel pou at the Albany campus on Wednesday.

The $15m building, dubbed Student Central and designed by architects at Warren and Mahoney, will provide a campus heart and hub for students.

The blessing was led by local kaumätua Pat Ruka (Ngäpuhi, Ngäti Porou, Ngäti Whätua), who took the crowd through the building’s two floors which house student facilities and services, including club rooms, retail, banking, food outlets, study support, health and counselling, and Mäori and Pasifika student services.

Albany Students’ Association president Stephan van Heerden says the centre will provide a highly visible and accessible permanent home for the association, and will help to foster a sense of community at the campus. He says this is “good timing” in light of the Voluntary Student Union Bill being passed last year, which has created uncertainty about the continuation of some student services, such as advocacy and class representatives.

“Student Central will be a great for students to meet and hang out. It means they have a place to stay on campus, rather than just leaving after their lectures.”

The steel pou forming a circle in the outdoor plaza area in front of the building add a distinctive Mäori presence to the campus in the form of contemporary art representing the learning philosophy and ideals of the University, says campus kaiwhakaruruhau (regional advisor Mäori) Donald Ripia.

“It’s been a vision of mine to have pou on the campus, so it’s a great thrill to see them in such a prominent place ready for when the students arrive for the new semester later this month,” says Mr Ripia says.

He says the pou provide a visible reminder that Albany is a place where Mäori students, staff and visitors feel welcome. The innovative design features and materials reflect the University’s focus on innovation in teaching and learning. Six pou are five metres high and 300mm in diameter, and the seventh is 6.5m and 400mm wide. Each has a meaning, with wording and designs digitally polished onto the surface, while the remaining area has been bead-blasted to give contrasting textured and matte surfaces.

The first pou has the word Kakano to represent the seeding of a thought, and the seventh and tallest has the words Tiki Tiki o Rangi, or the highest place in the heavens to represent ultimate achievement, in this case academic excellence.

Pou designer, Whakatane artist and carver Katz Maihi of Toitu Design. says they reflect the University’s principles of inclusion and achievement embracing all ethnicities and cultures represented in the student population.

“Each of the seven pou is a stepping stone of progression, acknowledging the personal and academic achievement of the students.”

The new centre will be open on February 20 for Orientation Week, with food stalls, market day, free sausage sizzles and live music, and an official opening ceremony will be held on March 23.

Caption: Staff, students and supporters gather at dawn to bless the pou and Student Central building; close-up of one of the seven stainless steel pou; and new Student Central due to open on February 20.

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