A Queenstown-based college which started a hospitality management school in Paihia last year has now taken out a long-term lease on a hotel to house its growing student roll.
QRC Tai Tokerau College, owned by Queenstown Resort College, offers residential courses in hospitality management from its base on Selwyn Rd.
Late last year the college bought Kerikeri Culinary Institute, renamed QRC Culinary, after its former owners closed it down; and now it has a 10-year lease on Tanoa Hotel on Paihia's Joyces Rd.
The 67-room hotel has been renamed QRC Tai Tokerau Halls of Residence and is home to 28 hospitality management students aged 18-26. That number is expected to go up to 85 next month.
Live-in managers Mel and Lance Edmonds are mentors and "mum and dad" for the students.
Mr Edmonds, who hails from Kaikohe, had a similar role previously with high-school-aged students in Auckland.
"It's pretty full on but it's a passion, a calling, to help these young people become adults and move into their future."
QRC general manager Charlie Phillips said the aim was to create a whanau environment with someone to send the students off in the morning and greet them when they came back in the afternoon.
The students shared en suite twin rooms and had three meals a day, a transition between living at home and full independence.
After-school activities included kapa haka, a fitness circuit, budgeting advice and extra tuition if needed. About a quarter of the students went home each weekend while the rest stayed in Paihia.
Mr Phillips said QRC initially leased one block of Tanoa Hotel but the students shared facilities with tourists so they didn't feel it was their home, and meals weren't to the nutritional standards the college wanted. QRC took over the whole hotel in April.
The college was able to take out a 10-year lease because it had complete confidence in its Northland plans.
Mr Phillips conceded that taking 67 hotel rooms out of Paihia could put a squeeze on accommodation during the summer peak, but most hoteliers were "pretty relaxed" about it because they understood the benefits of having a hospitality training school in town.
Having a local tertiary education provider helped diversify Paihia's tourism-led economy, he said.
It future it was likely some culinary students would also live at the halls of residence and take a shuttle to Kerikeri each day.
QRC Tai Tokerau College came about after New Zealand Maori Tourism approached QRC about a new training institute targeting Maori youth. It is supported by Shanghai Cred, the Chinese real estate company planning a major resort on Karikari Peninsula, which will provide overseas students to help keep local course fees down.