The dedicated multi-purpose youth centre planned for Stratford is a huge step closer to opening its doors with the amalgamation of the four main players involved.



Tutaki Youth Incorporated, involves Central and South Taranaki Youth Development Trust, People's Activity Centre/Youthworks, the Stratford District Youth Council and the Central Rugby and Sports Club. Each will continue to operate as a separate entity while a board is established and the working of the centre fine-tuned, says Brian Jeffares, chairman of the trust, who was given the task of driving the merger.



"The purpose is to maximise the collective strength under one umbrella; to have a co-ordinated approach to youth."



Tutaki means 'to meet and encounter' and was chosen after a naming competition earlier this year.

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The old Placemakers building on Juliet Street was bought in April, replacing plans for a new facility.



The group last week got the nod from sponsor TSB Bank for funds to refurbish the building.



"This is driven by the youth, what they want," says trust manager Ellen Hall.



The centre has been a long time coming, proposed around 10 years ago by Nick Allwright, the then deputy chairman of the Stratford District Youth Council.



The facility, however, is not only for troubled youth, says Tutaki Youth Incorporated chairman David Dent.



"From a police perspective, I can see part of the youth facility being used to keep our young people from being affected by crime. From a community perspective, I can see the facility being used by everyone (young and old)," says Simon.



The $650 000 centre will include offices, a computer suite, the Lion's Den with an international-size boxing ring, commercial kitchen for cooking classes and a recreational space. With an acre of adjacent empty land there is ample opportunity to add to the facility.



Youth council chairwomann Rebekah Frost says youth, their issues and their interests change, and that the facility will be able to move with that and stay current.



For Youthworks' social services manager Lovey Read, one of the advantages is that it will free up time for her to concentrate on social services and work within the community, with the centre office handling administration.



The trust is aiming to open the centre's doors early next year.



The Tutaki trustees are David, Kate Whareaitu, Graeme Height, Pete Wright and Jacki Berry. The project was started with support from Ministry of Youth Development and Mayors Taskforce for Jobs.