Transforming Healthcare Spaces: The Cultural Wall Art at Hastings Hospital's Perioperative Unit

At Hawke’s Bay Hospital, the walls of the perioperative unit have been transformed into a mesmerizing canvas, depicting the historic arrival of migrants by waka to Hawke’s Bay. This new installation, featuring intricate wall art, aims to create a calming and reflective atmosphere for patients as they prepare for surgery.

The official opening of the new Day of Surgery Admissions reception and waiting room was graced by the Honourable Dr. Shane Reti, Minister of Health. This event marked a significant milestone in the hospital's $23.8 million Surgical Services Expansion Project, which strives to increase the number of public surgical procedures performed annually. The newly enhanced theatre will balance elective and acute surgeries, enhancing the hospital's capacity to serve the community.

  • The artwork captures the legendary journey of the Tākitimu Waka to Mahia, a story deeply rooted in the local heritage. According to Kaumātua Hawira Hape, the first descendants of Ngāti Kahungunu arrived on the Tākitimu Waka and landed in Mahia. The waka, guided by several guardians including hammerhead sharks with eel-like tails, a giant stingray, and a pod of whales, found its destined place when seven whales performed a welcoming display off the coast of Mahia.

    This historical narrative forms the foundation of the stunning artwork, created by local company Your Decal Shop, owned by Jess and Antony Clark. The design invites reflection and reverence, celebrating the enduring spirit of the first settlers and their guardians. The waka, adorned with cultural symbols, pays homage to the guiding spirits—shark, hammerhead, and eel's tail—beautifully represented within the wave patterns below.

    On an adjacent wall, seven whales emerge, with one crafted from wood, continuing the visual story with symbols that celebrate beginnings, guardianship, and life's journey. Above, gold metallic stars accentuate the muted backdrop, allowing the wooden art to stand out as the main attraction.

    The creation process was meticulous, involving the entire design team at Your Decal Shop and finalized with insights from Kaumātua Hawira Hape. Demonstrating their commitment to the community, Your Decal Shop generously donated a percentage of the graphics' cost to the hospital. "As Hawke’s Bay locals, we wanted to support the hospital and its staff who care for our community," said Jess.

    Project Manager Janet Heinz highlighted the poetic link between the artwork's story and a patient’s journey to wellness. The renovations have provided the Perioperative Team with enhanced workspaces and increased theatre capacity, improving operational efficiency and significantly enhancing the patient journey and whānau privacy. The unit has also recruited 11 new staff members to support the opening of Theatre Eight, with additional wrap-around services being recruited to bolster the new theatre's operations.

    The unveiling event was a moment of pride and celebration, symbolizing a harmonious blend of heritage and healing. Among the attendees were MP for Tukituki Catherine Wedd, Honourable Dr. Shane Reti, and Perioperative Unit Manager Janya McLean, who together marked the official opening of this transformative space.

    For healthcare providers, hospitals, and agencies like Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, this project is a beacon of how art and cultural heritage can play a pivotal role in creating soothing environments for patients. The Hawke’s Bay Hospital's perioperative unit stands as a testament to the power of design in enhancing patient experience, making it a valuable case study for architects and designers working in the healthcare sector.

    For more information about how we transform healthcare spaces with our custom wall graphics, visit our Healthcare Wall Graphics page.

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