The official start of the $100 million-plus Farmers redevelopment in central Tauranga was marked today with a morning karakia.
A group of kaumātua led by Tamati Tata were joined by councillors, Farmers managers and contractors at the site on the corner of Elizabeth St and Devonport Rd.
"Ngāi Tamarāwaho hold the mana whenua for the site, which is at the heart of its rohe," kaumātua Buddy Mikaere said.
"Ngāi Tamarāwaho supports this project and considers that the redevelopment fits with its aspirations for the city centre. Ngāi Tamarāwaho is pleased to see the site being put to useful purpose."
The Farmers CBD store closed its doors on July 29 and will trade from Tauranga Crossing at Tauriko from September 6 while the new CBD building is being constructed.
Plans for the redevelopment were submitted for resource consent after public consultation, including with Ngāi Tamarāwaho, the Ngāti Ranginui hapū whose people traditionally lived in the area.
The site is being redeveloped by Elizabeth Properties Limited, part of the James Pascoe Group that owns Farmers and other New Zealand brands.
The group's property project manager, Brett Nicholls, said he was proud that kaumātua led today's ceremony and that Ngāi Tamarāwaho was backing the project.
"Today marks a very exciting milestone for the project," he said.
"We acknowledge Ngāi Tamarāwaho's ancestral ties to the site and are working closely with representatives to include design features that reflect this history."
Nicholls said a local artist was designing a large cultural mural along the Devonport Rd side of the building at street level, "which we are excited to incorporate into the design".
He said it was important to respect the site's history and to ensure that the new building complemented Tauranga City Council's plans for CBD public spaces.