Former spiritual directors at Frederic Wallis House will be back in the Hutt to launch the restored former retreat house’s labyrinth pathway into a new era when it is officially reopened on its new Hutt Hospital site on Sunday March 1.
Originally built and opened in 1999 in the grounds of Frederic Wallis House, the labyrinth was the only piece of architecture to be salvaged when the Boulcott retreat and conference centre was sold to a developer in 2006.
Hutt Valley District Health Board chair Peter Glensor first proposed the move to the hospital, and engineering investigation showed it was viable. A public fundraising campaign raised enough money to pay for the transfer, including a significant contribution from the Frederic Wallis Trust. Restoration has been completed with a large amount of volunteer effort.
The 12.5 metre diameter labyrinth on a concrete base was moved as eight giant ‘pizza slices’ in late 2007 by the house’s demolishers, and it was rededicated in December 2007. Restoration has been mainly by volunteers assisted by the health board’s Building and Property Services staff working in their own time.
The chair of the labyrinth committee, Merran Fleming, says, ‘The opening marks an important stage in presenting the labyrinth to the wider community for its use and appreciation. It’s wonderful to be able to acknowledge the public response in supporting the move.’
A labyrinth is a circular pathway walked for relaxation, meditation or prayer. It can also be appreciated as a work of art.
The labyrinth’s relocation to Hutt Hospital continues the hospital’s long association with Frederic Wallis House, while also being part of a worldwide trend of labyrinths in hospitals. Its renaming as the Frederic and Margaret Wallis Labyrinth retains the link with the retreat house and its founder Margaret Wallis who established it in 1937 in honour of her late husband, the third Anglican Bishop of Wellington. The labyrinth will be under the guardianship of the hospital’s chaplaincy services.
The opening begins at 2.00pm and includes speeches by Hutt City Mayor David Ogden and Hutt Valley District Health Board chair Peter Glensor recognizing the labyrinth as an asset to the hospital and the city.
Also on hand will be English couple Richard and Lyn Bavin—the driving force behind the original labyrinth construction in 1997-99 when they were part of the community that operated at Frederic Wallis House. A three-month trip back to New Zealand has coincided with the labyrinth’s re-opening.
Restoration of the colourful mosaic tiles which delineate the pathways has proceeded under the guidance of Peter Halford,who provided the technical and engineering expertise for the project at Frederic Wallis House—even constructing some original equipment.
Restoration has involved replacing tiles broken away in the move, restoring the wooden centre, plastering the outer ring around the labyrinth and parts of the internal pathway and grinding back existing plaster to bring out the colour, as well as providing a new sealant on both old and new plaster.
For more information, contact Merran Fleming 04 972 3720 or 021 2103105
Or Hutt Hospital chaplain Rev John McCaul 04 566 6999 (ext 8517)
Or Martin de Jong 021 909 688.