In recent years the community has been steadily working towards producing a master plan for a monastic complex that would do justice to the founding vision of the pioneers of Southern Star Abbey and their leader, Fr. Basil Hayes.
To achieve this we have:
- set up an Advisory Board of generous lay people. Initially their expertise assisted us in the restructuring of our finances and the development of our farm, now managed by lay workers. Currently they continue to monitor progress and provide sound advice for us;
- articulated a Vision for the Future;
- discerned with care where this might lead us;
- engaged a consultant to assist us with developing a statement of our concepts and the necessary spaces required for the future building of the monastery;
- initiated processes that led to the appointment of Hugh Tennent as our design architect and Catherine Alington as our site architect;
- arrived at the completion of the initial stage of the design with a model, a computer visualisation, a brochure for a fund raising campaign, and a pamphlet for those interested in the project;
- approached Trusts within the Cistercian Order for grants;
- commenced a publicity campaign followed by a fund-raising venture.
Architect Hugh Tennent has designed a master plan that can be realised in stages without compromising the life of the community or its ability to offer hospitality. Hugh’s web site
www.hta-arch.co.nz provides an outline of his response to our brief.
Stage I of the building program will meet the community’s most pressing need, more flexible and generous hospitality. The Rule of St. Benedict reminds the brothers that the greatest care should be exhibited in the reception of the poor and pilgrims, for Christ is more especially received in them.
Careful attention to the needs of those who continue to visit the monastery has led to provision for the following features:
- The Welcome Centre is the front door of the monastery, where visitors are greeted and welcomed in the reception lounge. A comfortable hall with supporting amenities provides an effective venue for the needs of various groups during the day and offers Marae style accommodation for 20 persons at night.
- The Administration Block, being part of the community’s connection with society, is located within the Welcome Centre as is the Porter’s Lodge.
- The Guest House caters for a variety of needs as at present. Six rooms capable of twin share and a common room with kitchen and lounge are situated close to the Church.
- The Silent Retreat House provides accommodation for four people and offers greater seclusion.
- The Family Centre offers a retreat for families.
- Co-Workers and Long Staying Guests are provided with self-contained dwellings sitting within the grounds of the monastery.
- The Hermitage, already existing, is situated in the gorge of the Manawatu River behind the monastery. It accommodates one person seeking solitude.
In undertaking this building program, the community is making an act of faith in God, their Tradition and the people they serve. The project has the support of Bishop John Bluck of Napier, Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North and friends. The community is grateful for their support and encouragement.
The first phase of building was completed with the opening of the new Kopua Monastery Guesthouse on 7 June 2008.
The Guest House, located near to the church, has 5 single rooms with shared bathrooms. There is one twin bedded room with an en-suite bathroom. Another twin bedded room has facilities for disabled guests.
Further discernment about what should be the next stage of development. Silent retreat house? Welcome Centre?
Blessing and Naming of New Guest House, Southern Star Abbey
As a visitor and pilgrim from Sydney, Australia, I was privileged to be present on Saturday, 7 June 2008, for the blessing and naming of the Southern Star Monastery’s new Guest House. It was indeed a joyous occasion.
The building of this Guest House was the outcome of several years’ planning on the part of the monastic community. In following the Rule of St Benedict which emphasizes the balance of prayer, study and work, the monks are committed to offering hospitality to those who come to the Abbey and, with this in mind, have long desired to improve the accommodation available to their visitors.
Much effort was put into raising sufficient funds to enable the community to come to the stage of selecting an architect to draw up plans which reflected the vision of the monks. Hugh Tennant, a well known architect from Wellington, was their choice and he and the building contractors worked closely with the community to bring to fruition a building which is a joy to behold.
It is one of simplicity, space and serenity, providing comfort and privacy to those seeking a spiritual refuge from the cares of the outside world for short periods of time. The views from the large windows reveal the beauty of the surrounding countryside and help the guests reflect on God’s presence in their midst.
Evidence of the Abbey’s importance in the lives of many people was provided by the large crowd which arrived at break of day on 7 June to join the monks in the Blessing Ceremony of the Guest House. The Blessing, a blend of Maori and Monastic elements, was conducted by Kaumatua Manahi Paewai and Abbot Brian Keogh. Having named the house, Whare o te Rangimarie, all present processed though the building for the blessing and then on to the Church for the Mihimihi
Led by Kaimihi Danny Karatea-Goddard, the congregation was addressed by Bishop Peter Cullinane, Bishop John Bluck, Huia Borrell speaking for the Tangata Whenua of Takapau, Marie Palmer for the Associates of the Abbey, and Hamish Kynoch for the Advisory Board of the Abbey, before accepting the community’s invitation to join the monks for breakfast.
The celebration continued with the Mass of Thanksgiving at 11.00am, again attended by a large crowd, and was followed by lunch with the community. The visitors took advantage of further close inspection of the Guest House throughout the day and all agreed that it is an inspiring and beautiful building. The day concluded with Evening Prayer in the Church.
As one of the first guests to stay in the Guest House, I am delighted with the atmosphere of peace, community and prayerfulness already existing in the building and I am sure it will be a source of joy and inspiration for many other people in the years to come.
In November 2011 the monks moved into their new accommodation block. There are eight new monastic cells together with shared bathrooms, a new laundry and a new boot room. The same architect was used as for the Guesthouse with the same environmental approach. The new rooms are highly insulated and have solar water and supplementary gas heating.
In early 2012 improvements were also made to the utilities block with a new walk-in deep freeze, a new storeroom and a large cool room. The old car port had to be demolished to make way for the new buildings and this has been replaced together with the area for waste management. Additional protection from the elements was also provided with semi-enclosure of part of the cloister using glass panels. The monks can now walk from their quarters to the refectory and church without being subjected to Kopua’s sometimes extreme weather.
At the same time as these improvements were going ahead most of the old accommodation and utility buildings were demolished. A block of four rooms and the old novitiate have been retained. Landscaping of the new buildings has started and is progressing slowly. This will continue over the next year or two.