Q. Who is it for? A. Taranaki Retreat is a residential facility, located near Omata. It also includes a non-residential space and services, a venue for a meditative quiet day and a place where whole families can deal with a tragedy. There is often a great mix of people of different ages and backgrounds staying.
Q. Why do people stay there? A. For so many reasons! It is a safe space for when life is challenging. Some who stay have been touched by suicide, orare dealing with loss or depression. Some people need time out from their situation at home – or come and stay with their whānau as part of their healing – for example, following a tragedy. Others visit the site and are supported with a listening ear, counselling, or other therapies.
Q. What are the facilities on site? A. The Retreat is set in peaceful rural Taranaki, with a full-on view of Maunga Taranaki. The 2.5 acre site has lots of little walkways and places to sit quietly and chill; ducks, chooks, goats, pigs and dogs to pet and feed; and people who care.
Q. How might a stay at the Retreat help my situation? A. Each person’s situation is unique. Some of these things can help : - Space to clear your head and to be with someone who’s role it is to listen, confidentially, to your situation, and to support you in the way forward. This can open doors to long-term support from our team – such as counsellors, medical professionals and budget advisers.
- Sometimes people’s situation has led to becoming isolated or not being able to cope with social situations. The Retreat allows both time to be alone, and a safe space to eat and hang out together, and to know you are not alone.
- Things to do (if you want). If you can swing a rake, a spade, a whisk or a screwdriver, or just tire the dogs out by walking them for miles, you can help us make this place better.
- The ordinary stuff of life dealt with. Like three meals a day provided, a hot shower and plenty of tea and coffee!
Q. What do I need to bring? A. Not much. All the basics (including bedding and towels) are provided – you just need to bring yourself and your personal toiletries and clothes. Might be worth bringing a coat and some good shoes if you fancy going for a walk or two. Gumboots if it’s wet.
Q. What are your acceptance criteria for guests? A.We don’t have medical criteria or anything of that sort. Guests don’t need to be referred to the Retreat by any particular agency – people can just get in touch and share their situation – and then fill in our Inquiry Form. From there, we will work together to determine whether the Retreat is the right “fit”, or otherwise support people in finding pathways forward. The Retreat is a whānau set-up rather than an institution or service. The community works with simple house rules that we all live by. Everyone inquiring about a stay receives these in advance and agrees to abide by them. Two of those rules to flag up are :
A) Personal Conduct – we all agree to keep the Retreat as a safe sanctuary in which all are secure and valued. It is a place where there is no violence, intimidation or inappropriate behaviour – where children are safe and nurtured, and people have space to flourish and enjoy their environment.
B) The Retreat is a drug and alcohol-free site. There’s a pretty home-built hut for those who like to smoke.
Q. What’s the structure for people’s stay? A. No two stays are the same! Each Guest is connected up with a Support Worker, whose role is to see that what a Guests most needs out of their stay is helped to happen. The only regular occurrence each day, is a communal dinner in the evening. We often do the planning, cooking and clean-up together for this. At the Retreat, we also host “Workaway” travelers – who work on keeping the site beautiful, hanging out with Guests, and helping to prepare the food. Often people will find the chance just to relax and catch up on sleep takes up the first few days. Others like to be busy around the site. Still others like to explore their creative side – and do arty stuff, make music, or do a little gardening. Some Guests enjoy the pets, the football table, the playground and trying out their skills with the basketball hoop. There’s a fantastic library with a huge variety of books; a movies-on-demand system, and evening an old-fashioned record player with some vinyl to choose from.
Our focus is on wellness of body, mind and spirit. Some Guests appreciate taking part in yoga, massage, prayer and meditation, or even off-site activities such as equine therapy and taking a stroll along the beautiful beach (ten minutes’ drive from the site).
Q. How do I find out more? A. Check out our facebook page - and check through the rest of this website. It’s worth mentioning that the Retreat isn’t for any specific type of person – it’s not for religious people in particular, or any socio-economic group. It’s just about people. There’s even a Retreat vehicle and someone to collect people / drop themhome (within Taranaki) if they don’t have transport. We can also assist Guests in getting to appointments during their stay. Under certain circumstances, people can even bring their (well-behaved!) dog to share their stay.
Q. What do other people say about the Retreat? A. “There have been times in my life when I have been close to hitting rock bottom in terms of depression. During these times of unwellness, I remember thinking: “Where can I go? Who do I turn to? If only there was a place I could go to for a couple of days to get well.” A few times I have hit rock bottom, one time worst of all. If the Taranaki Retreat had been available to me, then maybe all the wheels wouldn’t have fallen off. Having a safe place to go where people would be cared for in a completely non-judgmental and loving way by a family and volunteers, is a blessing for all us in Taranaki. In this community, I have come across many people battling depression, facing personal crises or living with raw grief, who would have benefited from having a haven of heart to go to. Now they do - as do I.” ...a Taranaki professional, who has shared in the development of the Retreat.
Q. How much does it cost to stay? A. Absolutely nothing. People staying generally have enough on their plate without worrying about more bills. So – no charges for anything.