It may take a leap of faith for those behind the Te Puke Centre to reach their goal.

Last year, following the announcement that Kiwibank would be pulling out of Te Puke and New Zealand Post services would be relocated, Te Puke Centre Working Group started a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to take over postal services in the town.

The idea was for the services not to be relocated, but be offered alongside a new information and visitor centre.

The group met and exceeded its target of $50,000 - and saw that as a mandate to press ahead with negotiations with New Zealand Post.

Advertisement

While substantial, the amount raised won't cover the full costs of what is planned for the information and visitor centre.

It will also need to be supported with service contracts with councils and agencies, and contributions from philanthropic funders.

Group chairwoman Karen Summerhays said it was now a case of getting "everything to fall on to the table at the same time".

"That is the post office purchase, the lease and the confidence council and funders will support the visitor and information side of the operation. And all that relies on us getting charitable status."

The group has formed the Te Puke Centre Charitable Trust which is awaiting charitable status, and is in the final stages of negotiation with New Zealand Post.

"We have come to the pointy end of those negotiations and must make a decision within the next three weeks as to whether or not to proceed with the purchase of the postal services and progress the lease with the building owner," Summerhays said.

Central to this decision is having the support of the community and in particular the Community Board and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

A submission is to be made to the district council's annual plan.

Advertisement

"We have been told by the large funders and council that we need to prove community support, for what we have planned, for them to support us.

"We've had really good buy-in from the public for the post office side of things - we know that - but now we need to get support for our submission to council for funding for the establishment of the centre."

The trust does not want the community to feel it has been committed to something it doesn't want or isn't sustainable.

If the worst come to the worst money pledge in the original campaign remains untouched and can be returned if the purchase of postal services does not go ahead.

The council's annual plan is due to be published in June.

"There's quite a big leap of faith here to go into the lease and say yes to the post office if we don't know if we've got council backing or not - that's why we need the community to come out and say this is what we want."

The thinking behind the visitor centre is to provide a one-stop shop that acts as a front door to Te Puke for residents and visitors and to connect people to existing social services and infrastructure.

"We have spoken to the council's chief executive about moving the information centre at the library to the centre.

"It will also be a place other agencies can work from where Te Puke is not big enough for them to have full time representation such as Citizen's Advice or Volunteer Bay of Plenty, which means people will have access to those services."

The centre would be a neutral space for visitors and seasonal workers to go to find information, access to wi-fi, support and other services.

The trust will support environmental and community initiatives such as Neighbours Day and Seniors Week but does not intend to duplicate social services that are already done really well by the other trusts in town.

The centre will have a meeting room to accommodate 20 people, but could also be a point for co-ordinating the use of other meeting spaces such as the Memorial Hall, Lyceum Club, Bridge Club or Constables Gallery.

The group will present its ideas to the public at 12.30pm and 5.30pm on April 12 in the Settlers Lounge at the Memorial Hall, and group members will be on hand to answer questions in the time in between.