This article first appeared in the Wairarapa Times Age.
An historic Masterton residence and local pregnancy support organisation are now more accessible to the Wairarapa community – thanks to a major upgrade and some generous businesses.
Last week, Hōkai Tahi was the recipient of Hutt Valley-based construction firm DRD Builders’ “Charity Building Day” – where staff carry out renovations and other building projects for a community organisation, free of charge.
Hōkai Tahi, based at Hessey House on Worksop Road, is a charity which aims to enrich and promote the well-being of mothers and whānau – in particular, those who face adverse circumstances surrounding their pregnancy.
On May 6, 15 builders descended on the early 20th century villa, replacing fencing, gates, and shelving, and building a new disability access ramp – while still taking care to preserve the building’s original character.
Most of the materials for the project were donated by Carters Building Supplies in Masterton.
Hōkai Tahi service manager Katie Van Dalen was promoting the organisation at an event last year – when an audience member, with links to DRD Builders, approached her and asked if they could recommend Hōkai Tahi for the company’s charity building day.
DRD Builders was keen to come on board – but the project was delayed due to covid restrictions and bad weather.
“This project has been a long time in the making. There’s been a lot of planning and preparation on the part of DRD builders and their wider network to action this,” van Dalen said.
“We’re just blown away that an organisation that barely knows [Hōkai Tahi] would give up their whole day to do such a massive project for us.”
Hessey House, an angled bay villa, was built in 1902 for Masterton borough councillor John Hessey, who lived with his family at the property until 1918.
Hessey, a successful farmer and land developer, sold the house when the former Masterton Borough Council gave consent for the property to be used as a business premises.
Hōkai Tahi, formerly known as Crisis Pregnancy Support Wairarapa, was founded in 2016 by a group of health professionals to fill gaps in community maternity services – supporting whānau through unplanned pregnancy, baby loss, or termination.
Hōkai Tahi’s health professionals provide sustained holistic care across four free services: crisis pregnancy support, practical pregnancy support, baby loss support, and post termination counselling.
DRD Builders, while based in Lower Hutt, also does various building jobs in Wairarapa – and plans to set up a new branch in the region.
Hokai Tahi chairwoman Lucy Griffiths described the generosity of DRD builders as “a real blessing”.
“Hōkai Tahi is run by volunteers – and we rely entirely on grants, fundraising and donations in order to provide our services to those in need,” Griffiths said.
“The projects the builders are working on will allow us to build our premises into a real community hub for whānau in the future”.