The Kind Foundation’s new Christchurch facility Papa Hou has officially opened. “It feels a huge relief,” says The Kind Foundation Chief Executive Josie Ogden Schroeder who has been driving the project since the earthquakes damaged the original buildings.
“Everyone just wants to make the community better and stronger and to make a positive difference. It’s great to have a new building to showcase our story and who we are. We are full of gratitude to the New Zealand Government, Architectus and the design team and our construction partner Cook Brothers.”
The new building, officially named Papa Hou (meaning treasure box in te reo Māori) is aptly named because of the broad range of facilities it provides – serving well-being, educational and creative needs. The organisation also comes with a name change as it has left the YMCA. Josie says that while the work remains unchanged, the new brand will help to serve the community of Ōtautahi Christchurch better.
The project received funding from the government’s Shovel Ready initiative. The three stages included the refurbishment of the existing accommodation building, the refurbishment of Hotel Give, the design and build of a new building to replace existing functions and incorporate new ones and the demolition of the existing stadium building and the construction of a new carpark. The Kind Foundation has continued operating throughout.
Josie says that Papa Hou will provide spaces to cater to groups and smaller conferences from 20-200 people, bridging the gap between the larger Te Pae Convention Centre. “There is a range of spaces that could be utilised by community and corporate groups for business, community or artistic endeavours, well complimented by the adjacent Hotel Give.”
“The spaces range from meeting rooms to performance spaces, to catered and licensed hospitality areas,” she says. At the heart of this offering is the Black Box Theatre. “It’s a special space because it is set up to be fully functional and flexible. A black box theatre is adaptable depending on the specific requirements, providing hirers more scope to be creative,” explains Josie.
Being a customer of The Kind Foundation is investing in the community.
“It is a new offering for our city with all the bells and whistles of a professional theatre in the centre of town but at an affordable price. We are trying to support the arts in our city and the key to that is venues that don’t push the ticket price too high for the audience because you can’t have a thriving arts sector without audiences.”
The outside area of Papa Hou has also been designed with community engagement front of mind with areas for outdoor music and performance. There is also a fully equipped commercial kitchen, and The Kind Foundation hopes that businesses will use their facilities and catering services to achieve their own goals while at the same time doing good with their money, says Josie.
“Being a customer of The Kind Foundation is investing in the community.” There are also special deals for local businesses to join the brand-new fitness centre that overlooks the gardens and is complemented by Muscle People physiotherapy.
Hotel Give, launched in 2021 and New Zealand’s first socially sustainable hotel, is The Kind Foundation’s key commercial enterprise with profits reinvested into the organisation’s programmes and services to support better outcomes for young people and vulnerable members of the community.
The Kind Foundation’s other facilities in Christchurch include a climbing centre in Waltham and a sports and fitness centre in Bishopdale. It also operates Wainui Park and Arthur’s Pass Outdoor Education Centre and employs over 200 staff and hundreds of volunteers.
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