Keep up to date with what's happening at Switched On Group as we continue to enhance environments for whānau, businesses and communities across Aotearoa.

Here, we'll share stories about our kaimahi, projects, community kaupapa and successes in the industry. 

Empowering our Rangatahi: Supporting Gather Foundation’s Place Cadets Project

30 November 2023
Over the past few months, the Place Cadets project, spearheaded by Gather Foundation and Gather Landscape Architecture, has been making significant strides at Te Kōmanawa Rowley Avenue School, working with tamariki to co-design and construct an area of their outdoor environment. Switched Building Solutions jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the initiative to foster collaboration and innovation among the enthusiastic tamariki.  


The project was an opportunity for Switched On to continue supporting educational outcomes for low socio-economic kura, Māori and Pasifika. Dan Baker, General Manager at Switched On Building Solutions says the Gather Foundation Place Cadets project allowed the business to help local hapori in an impactful way. 


“The work that Gather Foundation do with local tamariki is incredible! Offering our connections and skills to support the cause was a no brainer for us. Empowering the next generation to get stuck in and giving them the opportunity to feel that sense of pride that comes with leading and completing a construction project is priceless” Baker says. 
Dan and his team partnered with PlaceMakers and Leedsafe to provide materials and mini hi-vis vests for the kids as they embarked on the concept and build phases of their project.  


Photograph: Petra Mingneau 

Year 5 and 6 tamariki have been working alongside professional landscape architects, designers and educators and have identified a need for safe structures that provide hiding spots, shelter, and places to get up high and spend time together in small groups. They also expressed that trees are super important to them, so their final creation will relate strongly to the school’s native forest and local ecosystem.  

Landscape Architect and Chair of Gather Foundation Wendy Hoddinott says TeKōmanawa means 'the springs' and the land where the school now stands was once a part of Te Kuru, a large wetland that drained the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River. The soils here are the same found at Pūtarikamotu Riccarton Bush, an original forest remnant in Ōtautahiwhere 650-year-old kahikatea trees grow. These trees have been core to the inspiration for the design of our structures.”

The co-design process, marked by small group activities and the use of 1:10 plywood modules, has helped tamariki to refine their ideas and support the development of curriculum-aligned skills. Through collaborative efforts, the students have honed their teamwork, communication, and design-thinking abilities, laying a foundation for creative problem-solving in their future endeavours. 




Photograph: Petra Mingneau 

“By coming together with organisations like Gather Foundation that have a shared vision for hapori engagement and education,we can amplify our positive impact on children's education and their connection to the built and natural environment,” Baker says. 

On Thursday 7 December, Te Kōmanawa held their final event where they assembled the modular structures with tamariki and their whānau and we were lucky enough to attend and see all of the hard mahi that has been put in over the past few months. It was such an incredible experience seeing the joy on the kids faces watching their designs came to life and as they climbed over the structure you could see just how proud of themselves they were. 

Rowle Ave Student sits in structure


Poipoia te kākano kia puāwai, 

Nurture the seed and it will grow

Thanks to: 
Te Kōmanawa Rowley Avenue School 
Gather Foundation 
Gather Landscape Architecture Ltd 
Rātā Foundation 
WSP in New Zealand 
PlaceMakers Christchurch 
Warehouse Stationery 
To learn more about Gather Foundation and their mahi visit their website HERE