From the Momentum Waikato Annual Report 2023 - see full report in PDF.

Tirohanga | the Houchens Wellness Space, located in Glenview on the south-western edge of Kirikiriroa-Hamilton, is a place of peace and calm where people can restore themselves to wellness and get support to rejuvenate.

It has been established and is operated by Wise Group, in association with Momentum Waikato as the guardian of the Houchen family’s vision for the site.

In mid-2023 its then-Operations Manager Erana Severne said Tirohanga was “a first, delivering wellness services in a way that hasn’t been done before”.

“Healing is the cornerstone,” said Erana, “Tirohanga is a healthy and safe environment to find a sense of belonging and connection.

“Sometimes you just feel overwhelmed, so we take it back to the basics of well-being, free of judgement. You have mana and were born with mana, here is place for you to heal yourself.

“There is no treating people like numbers or problems to solve. The team here is all about manaaki tangata, the wairoa of the space.

The Lounge is at the centre of Tirohanga Houchen Wellness Space.

“The beauty of Tirohanga is that it was co-designed with the community, the voices of local people told us what they wanted, how it could serve them, it was not designed by ‘those who know best’.

“We want to show a different way of working, to flip the health model on its head, by building more wellness spaces in other communities, but this is not a one-size-fits-all model, the mix of services and priorities on offer has to be set by local people,” said Erana.

Services being offered at Tirohanga include a Māmā and Pēpi space, a delightful retreat for mothers and their young babies; meditation and movement classes in a light and airy studio; therapies and counselling; and community learning and development workshops.

Inside the Māmā and Pēpi house.

Here to Help U’, the Wise Group’s phone and web-based support service, was set up at Tirohanga as a Covid response early in 2020. The service has helped 150,000+ people and is going from strength to strength, with branches now popping up in other locations.

A ‘Seed to Plate’ program based around the site’s flourishing garden and well-equipped kitchen shows people how to grow and cook their own food.

The Houchen family started farming on the south-western outskirts of Hamilton in 1922. The five-acre retreat was carved off from the farm and established with a trust by the Houchens in the 1980s, as a place for priests to rest and study.

By the 2010s such visitors were infrequent and community usage was patchy, so the current generation were looking for a way to step back from governing the property while ensuring it continued to benefit the community, ideally in an expanded and coordinated fashion.

They chose to gift the land and transfer their trust to the care of Momentum Waikato.

Momentum then looked for a partner to establish run an appropriate wellbeing-focused operation at the grounds, and soon inked a deal with Wise Group, who were looking for a suitable site to pilot their vision for developing wellness spaces for local communities.

For Wise Group, which has numerous community support services, Tirohanga is a big deal and a big commitment, taking up much of its innovation budget, but with the confidence that this initiative will be changing people’s lives for the better for decades to come.

Momentum Waikato exists to provide the means for ordinary people to create a lasting legacy for their community.