Babies and baristas are heading to Wesley Rātā Village

October 15, 2021

Wesley Rātā Village in Naenae is taking another step forward on its journey to becoming an intergenerational community with the arrival this month of Mamaku Midwives and a hospitality and barista training course run by Naenae-based Trade School Industries.

Both organisations will be based in Kererū House, one of several buildings on the site of the former Wesleyhaven resthome and hospital run by Wesley Community Action. The site is now known as Wesley Rātā Village.

Until recently Mamaku Midwives were based at Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Lower Hutt which was closed in September due to financial problems, leaving them without a base. They will start working from their new rooms at the Village on October 18.

Trade School Industries has been running barista training courses at its Naenae café, Trade School Kitchen, to upskill young people and others who face barriers to employment to help them find work. These courses will soon be delivered at Kererū House, which is also the base for community art classes run by local artists Johannes Mueller-Welschof and Sandra Wales, and resident Village watercolourist Eric Dyne.

Programme of regeneration

The arrival of the two new organisations at the Village is part of an ambitious programme of regeneration to turn the 60-hectare site into a place to re-weave community and support wellbeing and resilience.

Recent milestones include building and tenanting 25 new social houses, and developing an Ageing Well network where Hutt seniors/kaumātua can build connections, end loneliness and support each other. Wesley Community Action owns another 30 low-rental villas on the site which are currently tenanted by older people.

Wesley Community Action director David Hanna says the arrival of Mamaku Midwives is particularly symbolic given that until it was closed in August 2017 the Village was home only to older people.

“Our goal is to develop an intergenerational community with older people at its heart. What better way to signal our commitment to that goal than by providing a base for midwives whose job is to care for pregnant women – literally the very start of life.”

A member of Mamaku Midwives, Amy Taylor (pictured left in the lounge at Kererū House with her daughter Aoife and fellow midwife Jess Tombs), says that following the surprise closure of the birthing centre they needed to find a new base, and they were delighted to have found somewhere so suitable.

“We really wanted to be somewhere where we could be part of a community and we’re really  attracted to the sense of community that exists at Wesley Rātā  Village.”

She says the availability of freshly made coffee in the same building is an added bonus.

Upskilling those facing barriers to employment

Trade School Industries board chair Nic Drew-Crawshaw says they have now almost finished refitting the kitchen at Kererū House (pictured) They hope to start providing hospitality and barista training there later this month for people connected through a number of partnerships, including Naenae Clubhouse and Youth Inspire Trust, a youth employment, training and education organisation.  

He says having separate premises means they will be able to run the courses more often and at more convenient times, rather than only when the Trade School Kitchen café is closed. Once they are established at Kerurū House they hope to also set up a koha café to provide coffee to people from the local community, which will be open at set times.

“We would love for the students to be able to hone their barista and hospitality skills by making and serving coffee to people who appreciate it, rather than having to drink it all themselves – or waste it!”