A multimillion-dollar community and civic hub on Kaikohe's main street could help reverse decades of decline in the Mid North town, the head of Ngāpuhi's commercial arm says.
Ngāpuhi Asset Holding Company, along with its parent organisation Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāpuhi and project partners the Far North District Council and Far North Holdings, is planning to build the facility on the former Kaikohe Hotel site, which has been owned by the rūnanga since 2013.
The council has set aside $11.78 million over the next five years in its latest Long Term Plan. The entire project is expected to cost up to $20m so the groups involved are seeking grants and government funding to cover the difference.
The hub will be called Te Pū o Te Wheke (the heart of the octopus), a reference to Kaikohe's location at the centre of the tribe's many arms.
Ngāpuhi Asset Holding Company chief executive Paul Knight would strengthen economic activity, provide stable employment and help reverse decades of decline.
''It will bring local shoppers back to the town centre and help keep visitors here for longer, capturing those using the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail and the numerous tourists driving through town to and from the Hokianga," he said.
The company was seeking funding to develop a project management and business case for the hub.
The district council will be a key tenant of the building. It plans to move Kaikohe Library and some other Kaikohe-based operations, such as its customer service centre, into the new complex.
Other tenants could include an information centre, café and art gallery, a museum showcasing Ngāpuhi taonga, creative and performing arts spaces, and other government departments.
When originally mooted it was to have brought all council staff under one roof, including those in Kerikeri and the council headquarters on Memorial Ave, but that is no longer part of the plan.
Holding company chairman Jason Witehira said Te Pū o Te Wheke would ''restore pride and make a bold, proud and positive statement about Kaikohe as the type of place the North wants to be''.
The company would consult widely with Ngāpuhi, the Kaikohe community and other stakeholders when when funding for the business case had been secured.
Far North deputy mayor Tania McInnes said the project had evolved considerably since it was first proposed in 2011. It had received strong support during consultation on the Long Term Plan 2018-28.
Using Kaitaia's Te Ahu Centre as a benchmark, Te Pū o Te Wheke is expected to cost $15-20m.