"This is our whare. Bring your mojo. Take ownership," Henare O'Keefe told several hundred Flaxmere residents last night.

The Hastings District Council member was master of ceremonies at the opening of the suburb's community centre, which has undergone a $1.5million upgrade.

The revamp has included construction of a new foyer, refurbishment and expansion of part of the Flaxmere Library, extended gym facilities, two new recreational spaces, improved ventilation and new toilets.

Yesterday's festivities involved the blessing and unveiling of a pou at the centre's entranceway, carved by local master carver Thompson Hokianga, and artwork by students from local schools that adorns the foyer.


"Now it's up to you and I to make the whare a living, breathing entity. It's our season, it's our time," Mr O'Keefe said.

Fellow Flaxmere councillor Jacoby Poulain spoke, introducing her 1-month-old son, Uenuku Poulain-Ngatuere, saying: "That's what this centre is about - expanding our community."

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule performed the official ribbon cutting.

"The turnout speaks volumes for your community," he said.

"In the past two weeks I've closed two buildings [in the earthquake-prone Opera House complex] so it's quite nice to open one."

Tukituki MP Craig Foss announced on behalf of Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye funding of $20,000 for 30 Flaxmere College students to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award programme.

Performances from local school and cultural groups followed.

The final word went to Mr O'Keefe: "Flaxmere rocks!"