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Source: Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

A new independent living option will open next year for students at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Whānau Mārama Apartments are in Haining Street near the University’s Te Aro campus, close to Wellington’s vibrant Cuba Street precinct and within walking distance of the University’s other campuses at Pipitea and Kelburn. Applications to live in the brand-new hall are open and the first students will take up residence in February 2024.  

While catered halls of residence are often a preferred way for first-year students to get used to university life, independent accommodation such as Whānau Mārama Apartments offers more flexibility and independence for students in their second-year and above.  

“We are excited to introduce these really attractive apartment options,” says Tina Wakefield, Chief Operating Officer. “They are a great choice for students who want to enjoy modern facilities and social support, while having privacy and independence.”

Given the shortage of good quality accommodation in Wellington and the steep cost of living, the University is doing everything it can to provide students with a range of accommodation options. The University has also decreased or maintained hall fees across several of its catered halls of residence for 2024 to support financially struggling students.  

Students can have their own apartment at Whānau Mārama or share with one other student. The hall can accommodate over 100 students, with 41 one-bedroom apartments, 36 two-bedroom apartments, and one three-bedroom apartment. All apartments are furnished and have private bathrooms and cooking facilities.

Laundry is free at Whānau Mārama Hall, while electricity and internet are a fixed cost of just $15 a week.  Although the apartments are self-catered and independent, there are social events organised throughout the year, with dedicated hall staff who contribute to creating a friendly and safe hall whānau culture.  

The name was selected by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori) Professor Rawinia Higgins, and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Mātauranga Māori) Associate Professor Meegan Hall, and was inspired by the location of the new apartments. Haining Street is at the heart of what used to be known as Chinatown, or the Celestial Quarter, and was a central point of the early Chinese community in Wellington.  

Whānau Mārama is a Māori term used to describe celestial beings more broadly, including the stars, planets, meteors, constellations, comets, the sun, and the moon.  

As well as the deeper celestial meaning, whānau (family) and mārama (light) reflects that the new apartments are a place for a ‘family’ of students to come together to learn new things.  

Prospective residents can find more information and apply online on the University Accommodation website.