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Te Wahi Ora  – a healing place, i.e. a place to belong to while moving into wholeness, was translated by local tangata whenua, Te Kawerau a Maki. However it was some years after Wynsome Diprose first asked us to use those words, before we discovered the full significance of our ‘given’ name.

A Piha local told us she had heard about the Maori Pa sites being at high energy points, on the north and south headlands of Piha and that a large population of Maori had lived on the heights of Maungaroa, the ridge directly behind our Retreat House. “The three points form a triangle and your A-frame triangular house is in the middle of their land-triangle,” she told us. “I’ve heard that the early Maori called this area inside the triangle, “a place of sacred healing.”

When we had occasion to ask a woman staying at Te Wahi Ora Women’s Retreat who was Te Kawerau A Mak,i what she thought of that story, she too was excited.

“That makes sense of what I’ve been told.”  She said.

“When my mother’s mother was getting old and unwell, she used to ask her family to take her to Swanson and she would walk across the trails of the Waitakere Ranges to stay with the Tohunga in the caves at the end of North Piha. When she was well again, she would walk back across the trails to Swanson.

“The name explains perfectly what you are doing at Te Wahi Ora”, she added, “offering women a place to belong to while they journey towards wholeness.”

Thinking of the women over the last 25 years who have come to visit for counselling or to stay at Te Wahi Ora Women’s Retreat, over and over until they felt a measure of ‘wholeness’ again, we recognize the honour of being one of the supports for women, who perhaps after a physical or emotional trauma, were journeying through a particularly difficult life transition. Sometimes it did take years! Sometimes it took a weekend of rest and new insights.   Sometimes it took months. But they had a place to belong to while they were in their process of moving towards wholeness!

It has taken years to develop what we offer. But increasingly we find that the name and the work match perfectly. Te Wahi Ora Women’s Retreat has now become a Charitable Trust so that for many years to come Te Wahi Ora can remain a place for women to belong to while moving into their Divine wholeness.

Bev Holt