Dawn blessing for opening of new medical centre

A dawn blessing, with over 100 people in attendance, was held to bless the new building on Tuesday morning. Local kaumatua Russell  Riki and Sean Ellison as well as Pastor Roger Peart and Reverend Fred Gilbert spoke of the significance of the new centre and its vital role in the community. 

The new purpose-built premises is now Raglan Medical and the community joined staff and other special guests at the early morning ceremony. This was followed by refreshments and a tour of the centre.

Owner of Raglan Medical, Dr Mike Loten paid tribute to past health practitioners who have provided expert healthcare in Whaingaroa. He gave thanks to key people who had contributed to the ten year process and in particular Michelle Meenagh “our lovely practice manager and force of nature,who I credit with making this project happen.”

A walk through of the building revealed a spacious modern interior with many local artworks.

Mike concluded “So now under our new name of Raglan Medical we are ready to provide true community based holistic medical care to our wonderful Whaingaroa community”

Carving commissioned for Raglan Medical

Russell Riki has been West Coast Health Medical Centre’s kaumatua and cultural advisor for the past ten years and continues to represent the centre on cultural matters. Russell, with guidance from local iwi leaders, has come up with a concept for a carving commissioned by the new centre, Raglan Medical.

Named Wai-Māori (freshwater), the sculpture will be carved by four local carvers Simon Te Wheoro, Kawharu Greensill, Kelvin Le Lievre and Aaron Kereopa will depict three significant waterways on a globe.

“The carving represents what the medical centre is doing by healing and connecting to people from New Zealand and around the world.  If you put your hand in water in Raglan that water connects you to the rest of the world,” he says.

The medical centre is represented by “the globe’ in the carving

It encompasses the bicultural and multicultural nature of Raglan community and connects Raglan to the world.

Each stream has a significance representing individual iwi belonging to the west coast.  The waterways Wainui and Waikaretu have a significant place in the history of Ngāti Tāhinga people.  From Wainui to Waitetuna is an equally significant place in the history of Ngāti Māhanga. Symbolically, all streams ultimately run into the sea.

“Water is one of the most precious things to Māori as it connects us to the rest of the world.”

For Māori, water is the essence of all life, like the blood of Papatūānuku (Earth mother) who supports all people, plants and wildlife.

Māori assert their tribal identity in relation to rivers and particular waterways have a role in tribal creation stories. Water is also used to cleanse

Iwi place a range of values in water, both spiritual and physical – as kaitiaki (caretakers) of the water-bodies in Aotearoa they understand that the health of the waterways is intrinsically connected to the health of the people.

Russell says traditionally Māori in the Whaingaroa rohe (area) would connect to water when travelling away as it was believed to carry their scent to their guardians from home who watched over them. The guardians could then find their way to the people to provide protection.

“Just like the medical centre is taking care of people and their health needs, the guardians through water are looking out for their people.”

Janine Jackson