Hidden gems on campus—Koha on Kelburn

Hidden gems on campus—Koha on Kelburn

Amy Stimson, a PhD student, shares why Koha is one of her favourite spots on the Kelburn campus—a place most students have probably just walked past.

There is something almost magical about finding a quiet spot in the midst of hubbub. Maybe it’s the small-town girl in me, but this place is an oasis in a busy city, on a campus which suddenly has a whole lot more traffic since term began.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to Koha, one of the hidden gems of Kelburn campus. This is your formal introduction, because I’m sure many of you have walked past its doors with little idea of what lay behind.

Found at 10 Kelburn Parade, it’s the chaplaincy on campus, and the first role of Koha is to be hospitable and pastoral. Counselling, friendship and laughter is always something I need, and especially when I’ve been too long shut in my small office with Microsoft Word for company. The chaplains—John, Karel, Sonya, Māmari and Jessie—are always around to talk, regardless of your background or conviction. These lovely people will most likely the ones be serving you your coffee or tea (just ring the bell on the counter to conjure them!).

There are quiet nooks for study, contemplation, and reading, and a range of cosy chairs to choose from, and all much quieter than the Hub. But there is a lot more that Koha has to offer (it’s not all stillness and silence).

What could be better than a tea or coffee joint on campus with no queues, quiet space and the price is only a koha (donation). Sounds too good to be true, but it’s been like this since the 1960 in, the café/space/library/chapel/chaplaincy that was once known as Ramsey House—and you can still spot the spunky ceramic letters donated by a previous student.

Then if people want to, they can travel deeper into the house to the chapel. It is a place of quiet, prayer and contemplation most of the week. But you are always welcome to join the communion and worship at 12 noon on Wednesdays, or the Friday prayer (very early!) at 8:15 am. Both are followed by a free meal.

This is also the location, and the organisers, of the exciting ‘Other Arts Tutorial’, an open discussion group for arts students and everyone who wants to talk more about culture the arts, and where they intersect (held every Wednesday from 1:30 – 3 pm).

You can also explore the library, which boasts more than 1,000 books. You can often find Tim there, one of the facilitators of the ‘Other Arts Tutorial’, who once described the library to me as a library “for curious people” (and also “for people who want to look impressive” by exploring the depths various enormous tomes of collected works).

I like to think of Koha as a place for needy people: needy for company, needy for quiet, needy for discussion, needy for reflection. And I would classify myself as needy pretty often during the week, and that’s when I’m glad the Kelburn campus has Koha.

“If you are a dreamer, come in.
“A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
“If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
“If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
“For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
“Come in!
“Come in!”

– Shel Silverstein.

Amy Stimson hails from South Africa and is a second-year PhD student in English Literature with a focus on J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Interested in sharing your experience? Read our submission guidelines and get in touch with your story ideas.