University Tupuānuku hall of residence wins Asia-Pacific excellence award

The award recognises Tupuānuku’s innovation as a new generation facility, which celebrates the University’s bicultural values and vision, and strong focus on student wellbeing.

The hall for first-year students opened in February 2021, has an embedded bicultural approach that puts Māori language, design and culture at its core.

Accommodating 484 residents and 20 residential advisors, the building is six levels: five accommodation floors providing 129 ensuite rooms (including 29 accessible) and 375 single rooms. Each floor features its own large common areas, small study spaces, kitchenettes, and gender-neutral common bathrooms.

Amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic this year it achieved 98.4 per cent occupancy. Demand for 2022 is currently exceeding supply.

University of Canterbury Executive Director of People, Culture and Campus Paul O’Flaherty, said the APSAA award was wonderful recognition of the innovative approach to student accommodation.

“Our bicultural model was uniquely developed in partnership between the University, iwi and our student accommodation provider UniLodge,” he says.

“The name Tupuānuku was gifted by mana whenua Ngāi Tuahuriri and refers to one of the stars associated with the Matariki cluster. Tupuānuku is associated with food and resources harvested from the soil. The name can be translated as tupu or tipu meaning ‘to grow’, which is very appropriate for a hall where its residents can grow at the start of their journey at university.”

The pastoral care program, operated by UniLodge, Australia’s leading student accommodation provider and manager, employs Taurima (residential advisors) to lead student groups (Kāhui) who identify with the cultural heritage themes.

The ‘Project 100’ wellbeing programme ensures a touchpoint every week with every student.

“This is a new model of care for first-year students that provides them with a safe, secure and culturally enriching environment as they start their tertiary education,” UniLodge Chief Executive Officer Tomas Johnsson says.

“We are continuing to evolve our programs to meet the needs of our students.

“The new role and programme of training for Taurima breaks new ground and serves as a model for our other halls of residence and other providers.”

Tupuānuku and UniLodge are also supporting a new programme, Takere, a six-week academic and cultural live-in academic preparation programme for Māori and Pacific ākonga (learners). These students are also offered the opportunity to live in the hall for their first year of university, with the aim of improving access for all.

Take a virtual tour of Tupuānuku and find out more about the first-year hall of residence here.

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