In 1989 the Manawatu Accommodation and Sheltered Housing Trust evolved from the former Railway Hostel Trust. The membership of the Society was largely from organisations which had had an interest in the Railway Hostel, Palmerston North City Council, Department of Social Welfare, Manawatu-Wanganui Area Health Board, and a variety of church and housing organisations.

It is not surprising therefore that the original Trust Deed (1990) was designed to:

a)  Supply the needs of and render assistance to sick, aged, infirm, disabled, destitute, poor,
     indigent, needy or helpless persons by providing low cost sheltered accommodation.
b)  To foster, promote, facilitate and encourage the wellbeing, care and support of the

The first Committee of Management of the new Trust was made up of representatives from Options in Community Living, Manawatu-Wanganui Area Health Board, Palmerston North City Council, the Psychiatric Consumers' Group, and two independent people. One of the original members of the Board, Heather Allan is still on the Board and acts as Chairperson. MASH Patron Professor Nan Kinross (former coordinator of Health Service Management at Massey University) was the first Chairperson and continued in that role until 2004.

In December 1991 and agreement was reached with Manawatu-Wanganui Area Health Board regarding the use of $200,000 of Telecom Mental Health Allocation held in trust to provide accommodation for no less than 12 persons with psychiatric disabilities. However prior to contracts being accepted, a bank account was required to be established and $500 was borrowed from the Health Board to open the account. The money was never requested to be repaid and was eventually spent on lawn mowers.

The first Annual General Meeting was held on the 25th of March 1991.

The development of services commenced during 1992 with rented office space at the Greenslade Centre, sharing one small office and one desk with two other organisations. A coordinator was appointed and later that year two support workers joined the organisation.  In 1992 two houses were established in Townsend Place and Beresford Street under special tenancy agreements with the Housing Corporation.

With the closure of Lake Alice and Porirua Hospitals, services continued to grow. Government began to fund new community based services including Support in the Community, homes for younger people with physical disability, Respite Services, LUCK drop in centre and Workmates. MASH took advantage of the opportunity and services in the Manawatu began to develop. Later residential services for people experiencing mental illness, living in Wellington were established.

The small organisation had to deal with many hurdles during the first few years and funding was always a constant problem. On one occasion when payments from the Health Board were slow in being administered, management had to resort to selling off one of the two cars to pay staff wages.

On another occasion a house was being prepared for occupation and located in a well known Palmerston North suburb next to a local gang house. When staff went to move in everything had been stolen, including the kitchen stove. The then coordinator arrived at the house and wandered to the fence to talk to the next door neighbour (which happened to be a member of the local gang) to enquire about the whereabouts of property. She explained what MASH was about and two weeks later the gang had requested that Housing Corporation relocate them as they did not want to live next to the 'mad people'.

Then there was the time when the wake-over staff were sitting in the lounge one night and in burst a squad of police. The house had been surrounded! They had received a call that everybody in the house had been murdered and there was blood every where.  After a frantic search police came up with the a result - a bored consumer had made up the story making a false 111 call to liven up the night.

In 2004 the service for people with intellectual disabilities was established with the pending closure of Kimberley. MASH was the first provider to establish a home at The Gables in Levin for people moving from the Kimberley Centre. Staff still remember the furore that was caused in the local community with meetings being called in the local hall with no sitting room left and some very anxious members of the general public.  However The Gables was eventually established and had been operating for several months when a concerned neighbour phoned the office and enquired when residents were moving because they were concerned about the disturbance that there would be.  They were told that the residents were already there! 

Over the next couple of years the service for people with intellectual disabilities went from strength to strength with 12 homes from Hawkes Bay to Paraparaumu, four vocational sites and an office in Levin.

MASH has had two challenges in the Environment Court with neighbours objecting to residential services being established in their community. Both challenges went to a full hearing with the same outcome:- people with disabilities have every right to live in the community.

MASH has been an innovator in many areas;

  • 2005 saw further growth in our Child and Young Persons Respite Care service;  
  • We have become a leader in Mental Health and Addiction Services; 
  • Healthy Lifestyles programme for people in the community;
  • LUCK drop-in centre has gone from strength to strength;
  • The Enhanced Packages Of Care (supporting people with disabilities to live in their own homes) has grown;
  • MASH was the first non-government organisation (NGO) to gain the Certificate of Accreditation;
  • MASH was requested to assist two organisations where statutory managers had been put in place by the Ministry of Health resulting in ongoing management by the MASH Team;
  • Partnership with Whaioro Trust.
  • Throughout the years MASH has been awarded many Community, Primary Health and International Awards.

From small beginnings with only two staff MASH has evolved over the years and now provides 24/7 support and services to approximately 850 people and employing nearly 485 permanent and part time staff.

MASH has been successful in developing and delivering a professional and quality service to the people we support.  The rewards that we are able to reap are due, in no small, part to;

  • The skills and experience of the Board members and especially those members who have given long service continue to ensure that MASH does not lose its original intent, which is working in partnership to support people to grow and develop in the community;
  • The dedicated and passionate staff who support people in often difficult and stressful circumstances. Many staff go far beyond the requirements of their jobs living up to the mission statement: ‘Working Together to Achieve Great Lives', and of course
  • The people we support to grow and develop who give back to the staff the encouragement and passion that comes with obvious progress and enjoyment of life.
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