A state-of-the-art business and digital technology hub aims to create employment and training opportunities for Ngāpuhi and help Kaikohe businesses thrive.
Te Kona Digital, Business and Learning Hub, on Guy Rd in Kaikohe, was blessed on Friday and opened for use on Monday.
The building includes conference rooms for meetings, hui and wānanga, hot desks for hire, video conferencing facilities including a Zoom room, training areas and reliable wi-fi.
It was built by Kaikohe's Te Kotahitanga E Mahi Kaha Trust which will use new classrooms to deliver training programmes in primary industries and horticulture, expanding later into business administration, building and carpentry.
Outgoing trust chief executive Deidre Otene — who handed over the reins on Monday to Erana Kara — said the facility could be used by start-up owners who didn't want to sink money into renting their own premises, researchers who wanted to work from home instead of heading to the city, or big businesses doing mahi in Kaikohe.
The budget for the building plus fit out was about $1.2 million. Funding came from various sources including the Provincial Growth Fund, Tindall Foundation, Foundation North and JR McKenzie Trust.
Te Kotahitanga E Mahi Kaha Trust also used the proceeds from a property sale on Rankin St and contract work.
Otene said the trust had worked to a tight budget and recycled materials from its own whenua such as pine trees used in the construction.
''The goal is that we're not reliant on government funding long term and that we practice tino rangatiratanga, our ability to be self-sustained,'' she said.
Local design firm Ākau had enlisted local taitamariki [youth] to come up with Te Kona's creative elements.
''It's a pretty funky facility. We've purposely made it that way on the budget we had,'' Otene said.
''For us as a trust it creates a long-term sustainable income but it also provides a space of kotahitanga [working together] where whānau can see success as a normalised behaviour. When you see successful businesspeople, freelancers and researchers in your space, it doesn't seem so far away to attain.''
Otene said there was great synergy in bringing learning and business together in one space.
New chief executive Erana Kara thanked the trust's operations team and local tradies and contractors who worked hard to finish the facility.
''We look forward to seeing our community and businesses in Te Kona, and to the fantastic learning and sharing opportunities that will come,'' she said.
A mobile hub will take Te Kona's digital services to agriculture businesses in isolated parts of the Mid North.
The trust was founded 37 years ago to provide opportunities in education, employment and business development.
Among other things the trust offers training courses, operates a vineyard and winery, and has a nursery producing 300,000 native trees a year, mainly for river restoration projects.
The name Te Kona refers to the mother of Ngāpuhi leader Hone Heke and her role in providing safety, counsel and comfort.