Tararua REAP has leased its iconic blue neighbouring office, No. 17, to establish a community services and support centre in direct response to meeting the needs of the district's rural community.
Tararua REAP general manager Claire Chapman said REAP was in a unique position as a central, neutral, not-for-profit organisation that could support the community in a variety of ways.
"The ability to be responsive to community need is supported by the Tararua REAP Board which sees it as a real community initiative, led and managed by Tararua REAP but belonging to and benefiting the whole Tararua community."
Chapman said No.17 would support the community in three main ways - social collaboration, social inclusion and service provision.
Under social service collaboration No.17 will serve as a hub for social services and the community to meet.
It would become a "one-stop" place for services to share information and promote their roles.
It would also enhance the ability of other services to work within the community.
A report on the project said alongside strong working relationships, Tararua REAP was in the geographical centre of all the main social services operating in Dannevirke.
"No.17 aims to be the hub for community services, a central venue for social services to share and access, to support individuals and whanau. It will also be an ideal venue for community group events, workshops or spaces for family or group meetings."
Tararua REAP's main premises at 15 Gordon St has three meeting rooms available for the community to hire, or, depending on a group's need, use at no charge, and this service was well used.
"At times usage is so high that we must turn down bookings," Chapman said.
"There is so much demand for space and we don't want to turn people away."
As a hub for social inclusion No.17 would be a place at which children, young people and families would be supported by community services and the community.
"The rural community of Tararua has a high percentage of vulnerable people who need support and this need continues to increase. Forty-two per cent of people in the Tararua District live in areas designated as being among the most deprived in New Zealand.
"Many people struggle to find the appropriate support or resist meaningful engagement with social services."
No.17 would provide comfortable, non-threatening, non-clinical, homely, private but neutral spaces for social service providers and community service providers to meet with families and individuals.
"This would include much needed meeting/office spaces for social service providers who are contracted to service our community, but don't have or can't obtain permanent spaces in our community."
The report said the location of the building would encourage more face-to-face connections for external providers with local service providers, such as Te Kete Hauora (Rangitāne), Police, Tararua Family Services, Tararua Community Youth Services and therefore build stronger professional relationships and referral processes which in turn would benefit the community.
"It will also be a place where real community spirit is felt with shared communal facilities, encouraging informal discussion, a large foyer, displaying community activities and a central space, for local and external service providers and community members to meet/connect/collaborate for those less formal but often more productive conversations."
In terms of service provision it would provide space for cultural and artistic courses and experiences such as drumming workshops and kapa haka practice.
It would become a central hub to help strengthen community partnerships, cohesiveness and integration of service delivery and provision to individuals and families.
"We will also encourage the spaces to be used for gatherings, events and meetings of community support groups, such as Women's Cancer Support coffee mornings and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren meetings."
MASH Trust, which provides a wide range of support services for people with mental health, intellectual or physical disability, alcohol and addiction and respite care, is the first of the tenants on board, but Chapman said more tenants were being sought.