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Totara pare represents a mantle of manaakitanga for hospital

A feeling of peace was brought to Gisborne Hospital at dawn today with the unveiling of a new pare (door lintel) carving.

The pare represents a mantle of manaakitanga (care for others) for all who pass under it, as it sits above the entrance to the hospital.

The 9m pare was carved by local artist Simon Lardelli, from a totara log gifted to Hauora Tairawhiti by Tuhoe. This morning it was blessed by kaumatua.

“Te pare is one of the most important parts of a wharenui,” Mr Lardelli said.

“A pare above the entrance is the right tikanga (protocol).”

Hauora Tairawhiti chief executive Jim Green said the pare would ensure people felt comfortable in the hospital’s care.

“The pare signifies to Maori that when they enter this organisation, it is a safe place; that our staff understand tikanga.”

Mr Green said the pare had been a Hauora Tairawhiti goal for some time, and it was for everyone, not just for Maori.

“The hospital should have a feeling of safety for people; it’s all about improving outcomes for people who use it.”

Pare were always female, Mr Lardelli said.

“This pare honours a very special woman, Heni Materoa. She was a powerful and respected woman with whakapapa to Turanganui-a-Kiwa iwi, Tairawhiti and Tuhoe. Her mana was pristine.”

Mr Lardelli said the pare symbolised a place of transition between tapu (sacred) and noa (free of tapu).

“When people enter the hospital, passing under the pare, they can leave all negativity behind and focus positivity around their health. This is something for everyone, not just Maori.”

The pare reflects a waka tete, originally used for transporting kai up and down a river. This one was upturned to signify a whakaruruhau (shelter), he said.

“Heni Materoa also used to provide shelter. She raised funds and donated land for a children’s home in Gladstone Road (opposite Mill Road).

“She was involved in the establishment of Cook Hospital to support the hauora and wairua of her people. This was no doubt influenced by her tireless work during the influenza epidemic of 1918.

“The log was milled at Larsens Sawmill before being brought down to a workshop on site at Gisborne Hospital,” he said.

“There is enough wood left for another couple of other future projects.”

The totara log is not the first Tuhoe have given to Hauora Tairawhiti. Five years ago one was gifted which was made into two carved pou. The pou sit outside the entrance to a large meeting room, Poutama, at the hospital.

Occupational therapist student, Caitlin Fleming volunteered her skills this morning to kaumatua wanting to be a part of the opening.

“We got up at 4am. I organised some other students, a physiotherapist and a dietitian, to help get everyone up safely,” she said.

“When in hospital, our patients can feel quite disconnected, so it’s good for them to get involved in something like this.”

Miss Fleming had one patient in particular who she helped get ready for the pare unveiling. She said he had been “on my case” about it for weeks.

“He’s a rangatira at the hospital and had been saying how he really wanted to come.

“He would say, ‘don’t you leave me behind’ and I would tell him ‘no, no, you’re my number one priority’.”

“He was already awake when I went to get him ready at 4am.”

About 80 people were in attendance this morning, including Otago students from the Inter-professional Education programme (IPE), which is only available in Gisborne.

The pare took Mr Lardelli three months to carve.

“Our plan is to replicate this pare in other parts of the building, to enable the feeling of manaaki for people,” Mr Green said. “Art is also therapeutic.”

COMFORT: A 9m pare at the entrance to Gisborne Hospital was unveiled and blessed at dawn today. Pictured at the ceremony are, from left, Molly Para, the Rev Patsy Ngata-Hills, Lisa Smith, Taina Ngarimu, Eru Wharehinga, Mere Wawatai, Josie McLean, Wendy Wallace, Simon Lardelli, Dave Para, Jim Green and Owen Lloyd. Picture by Paul Rickard