A new Acute Mental Health unit is planned to reach the Practical Completion stage in 2025 at Rotorua Hospital. The purpose-built unit will have 16 patient bedrooms with futureproofing for a further four bedrooms. Additionally, there will be several lounges, dining facilities, staff offices, meeting rooms and ancillary areas, including therapy and activity courtyards.
The new unit will replace the current facility, which is no longer fit for purpose and is nearing the end of its serviceable life.
RCP has worked closely with specialist architects, building engineers, mental health and addiction staff, local iwi, tangata whaiora and central government on the design of the new building to ensure it is fully fit for purpose and meets the needs of patients in the future. RCP has also been liaising with the nearby school with opportunities to work together during the construction as part of RCP’s drive for broader outcomes.
Te Ara Tauwhirotanga is the model of care for mental health and addictions at Te Whatu Ora Lakes. It was developed through extensive consultation and co-design with the community, including service providers and users, whānau and local iwi.
The first phase of the build involved the formation of the substructure, with construction works beginning on site in October 2022. This included the removal of several buildings, two of which have been repurposed elsewhere on the grounds of the Rotorua and Taupō hospitals.
The challenges of building in Rotorua have provided distinct challenges from the geothermal activity in the area. These include thermal vents, hot springs, and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gases that can be aggressive towards susceptible building elements. The building has been designed and will be built accounting for these issues. This includes a fully vented subfloor to allow for the escape of heat and gases coming from the ground below to escape to the atmosphere as well as protective measures for building services.
Due to the poor quality of the soils and the inability to repurpose as landscaping, the material arising from the bulk earthworks will be removed to suitable waste management facilities.
As part of the ground works completed to date, a karakia and mauri stone blessing was performed in February 2022. This involves a selected stone from the ground works blessed and then buried beneath the location of the main entrance of the new unit to secure vitality in the land and ensure a successful journey throughout the build.
The completed building also includes a number of cultural elements specifically designed by local iwi artists who have been integrated into the project team.
Following a period of ground settlement, the main build will commence. Work is expected to start in October 2023.