K'aute Pasifika's dream to build a new home for the Pasifika community in Hamilton is one more step closer to reality, after Hamilton City Council unanimously signalled agreement to rezone and lease land at Hinemoa Park for the project.
It is a milestone that has taken three years to get to, after the council first supported K'aute Pasifika as the lead applicant for the site in 2018.
K'aute Pasifika is a charitable trust based in Hamilton which provides health, education and social services to Pasifika communities and all other ethnicities who wish to access their services.
Hinemoa Park is part of the West Town Belt between Mill Street and Rostrevor Street. The park contains the former Stadium Bowling club, Hamilton Squash and Tennis, Hamilton Amateur Radio Club, and a large area of green space. There are also community groups temporarily using buildings at the park.
In front of a packed public gallery in the council chambers for the first community and services meeting of the triennial, K'aute Pasifika chief executive Rachel Karalus said the new $9 million facility would be about bringing the walls down around the community, both physically and figuratively.
Ms Karalus was supported by her mother and founder of K'aute Pasifika Elisapeta Karalus, and their chairman Edgar Wilson. Supporters also included local MP Tim Macindoe and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dame Margaret Wilson,
"This will be a model the rest of the country will want to replicate. People in Wellington are watching while we seize and create our own opportunities," Ms Karalus said.
"The hub will bring people together without regard to gender, age, sexuality and even political views."
"The hub is bringing us all together but what we need now is local government foresight and the approval to move to the next stage of development."
Ms Karalus said K'aute Pasifika's mission statement for a long time was 'united we will achieve' and that the statement remains true today as it did at the foundation of the organisation.
The hub will include community buildings, an education centre, and outdoor recreational areas.
There were no setbacks from councillors in reclassifying the land from recreation to local and community purposes.
Councillor Ewan Wilson said the hub would enable the community to interact more in the area.
"On balance Hinemoa Park in the past has been this wonderful combination of green space and community based activities.
"I don't think you can get much more community based than a Pasifika hub," Mr Wilson said.
Māngai Māori council representative Te Pora Thompson said the council's iwi representatives have thrown their support behind the Pasifika hub.
"This signals a practical expression of wellbeing and provides a platform for us as council to raise our communities up," Ms Thompson said.
Councillor Dave Macpherson said enabling community groups is the core business of council.
"I had a question over opening the area up as there was a question by a submitter about it being closed up, but the question was answered best by Rachel Karalus that the first action would be taking down of the fences.
"I think that is symbolic and this is going to open up that area and create greater community involvement and that is why it will be good for the city," Mr Macpherson said.
After the meeting there were tears of joy, and applause from the public gallery, with Ms Karalus saying the decision was the best outcome for all parties, and that the hub would be open to all the communities of Hamilton.
K'aute Pasifika will now seek further funding for the $9 million project from the Department of Internal Affairs, after receiving over $2 million from Trust Waikato.