Far North Holdings has been commissioned to build a new Ministry of Education office in Kaitāia, on part of the car park the company owns at the corner of Redan Rd and Commerce St.

The ministry plans to move into the new building in December.

Aspects of the building's design, construction and fit-out have been dictated by the ministry, but it will be owned by FNHL, which already owns several commercial properties, which it says contribute to its profit and the dividend paid by to the Far North District Council, and which offsets rates by about 4 per cent a year.

FNHL chief executive Andy Nock said no council funds were being used in the building's construction, while the long-term lease signed by the ministry was a standard commercial tenancy arrangement, and would cover all costs. Half the car park would reopen as a public car park once construction was completed.

A start has been made on the Ministry of Education's office site in Kaitāia
A start has been made on the Ministry of Education's office site in Kaitāia

Mr Nock said FNHL welcomed the ministry's move to establish new offices in Kaitaia, and in so doing upgrade the town's stock of commercial property.

"There were no existing commercial properties on offer that met the ministry's requirements, and which were earthquake code compliant and secure from flooding," he said.

"By providing the ministry with a suitable building, and its staff with a workplace that is fit and safe to work in, we are enabling it to maintain a central presence in Kaitaia while also generating a return for all ratepayers.

"Part of our role is to provide and maintain infrastructure that works for our district's economy by making the Far North a great place to live and work. This investment in Kaitaia's commercial building stock helps to deliver that."

FNHL is responsible for managing and operating the commercial activities of the Far North District Council, including Port Opua, the Bay of Islands marina, Kaitāia and Bay of Islands airports, the Paihia Maritime Buildings and Paihia wharf, Williams Road Car Park (Paihia) and the Kaitaia Education Campus.

Since 2005 all of its trading surplus has been distributed to the council or reinvested in property and infrastructure within the district.

The council estimates that without this financial contribution general rates would have been approximately four per cent higher every year.