A $5.5 million purpose-built facility for young people and their families, complete with a recreation centre, administration block and community meeting spaces, will be built in Tikipunga.
Te Ora Hou Northland, which had been looking for new premises since it was told it had to leave The Pulse in Raumanga in 2016, has bought two hectares of land from the Tikipunga Children's Home Trust.
About 50 people gathered on Friday for the blessing and turning of the sod at the site next to Alzheimers Northland on Corks Rd.
Te Ora Hou general manager Lou Davis said it was a wonderful day.
"We're so excited about the future and in particular young people and families in Whangārei as we embark on this journey."
Davis acknowledged the vision for doing something for young people when the trust was established in the 1930s.
"The fact that it's still going now and I'm not sure they would have thought that far ahead, and that it's going to continue way beyond our time, what a cool legacy ... in that sense we only stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us."
He said it was a long road to get to this point and there were a lot of people involved.
Davis said it would be much more than just a building. "This will be a place working with a range of organisations to help young people find their place in our community."
He said a number of services and organisations from The Pulse would be coming onto the site with them.
"It's not just a Tikipunga thing, it's a centre for Whangārei."
Davis said young people and families found their way to The Pulse in Raumanga, adding that the second biggest group of people accessing The Pulse were those from Tikipunga.
He said young people were resourceful and when Te Ora Hou had asked people in Raumanga if they would come to the centre if it moved, they indicated they would.
Davis said the funds has been raised by Te Ora Hou Northland, private trusts and individual donations. Te Ora Hou is also in the process of applying for grants from philanthropic organisations.
If everything went to plan, he hoped to have the project completed in October/November.
The Tikipunga Children's Home Trust presented Davis with an aerial photo of the site from the 50s.
Secretary Dave Reyburn said the trust was very supportive of the project.
"We think it's a very good progression from what the trust's been doing."
Te Ora Hou has operating in Whangārei for the past 38 years and has been the head tenant at The Pulse for 18 years.