Kaitaia's He Whānau Mārama Trust has given up on its dream of turning the town's old Pak'nSave supermarket into a youth activity centre.

The project made national headlines was announced almost two years ago, after Foodstuffs sold the building for $2, the buyer offering to help develop it into a centre for the town's young people.

"The 'deal' was not a deal at all, and coming up to two years since we were approached, nothing has happened," trust secretary Micah Tawhara said.

"The dream has become a nightmare."


In 2018 the Shine on Kaitaia Project Team, formed by the trust, had been "sought out" by the owner of the building to help with planning its conversion into a Kaitaia Youth Activity Centre. Once completed it was to be managed by Shine on Kaitaia.

"Although we weren't the ones who bought it, we were told the project would be community-led and developed for the community," Ms Tawhara said.

"We wanted to ensure that whatever was going to be built it had the right people in there with the best activities, opportunities and operating systems to make a lasting youth and community activity centre for Kaitaia and Te Hiku."

Shine on Kaitaia had consulted the community to establish what people wanted, as well as visiting youth and other training centres in cities, towns and marae around the North Island.

"All the people we met offered support and advice when we needed it," she said.

"We received hundreds of offers of support, not only from local tradespeople but from throughout the country. We were offered large donations and funding opportunities and support, we drafted plans, offered timelines. At every step our plans were blocked by the new owner of the building.

"We spent 22 months of our own volunteer time trying to keep the building secure, and making it less of an eyesore, as it was before. We were continuously told, however, that we couldn't do anything yet, that we were too impatient, and to just wait."

Now the project leaders had had enough of waiting, and believed the community had too.


"We have offered various resolutions, but the relationship has broken down, and we have decided to step away from our dream.

"During our research phase we were warned to be careful, and that we may be wasting our time, but we wanted a youth centre so much for our kids and our community that we had to try. The positive from this ordeal is that we have created an awesome, inclusive and collaborative plan of what the youth centre will need and look like."

The building's owner is currently believed to be in Europe.