A new $2.4 million ratepayer-owned animal shelter has opened near Kaikohe, on the site of a previous kennels Far North District Council bought.
The council’s Southern Animal Shelter opened with a dawn blessing by rangatira from Te Uri o Hua hapū.
The new, purpose-built facility will work in tandem with the Northern Animal Shelter which opened in July 2021 in Kaitāia to provide coordinated and district-wide management of animals in the council’s care.
Following the blessing, Kahika Mayor Moko Tepania, councillors, council staff, and members of the Bay of Islands Animal Rescue team toured the 300 square metre building. It includes 13 individual kennels - three can be used for quarantine purposes - a vet room, an area for puppies, four exercise areas, as well as an administration block. Outdoor kennels may also be added in the future. It is anticipated that in the future people wanting to view dogs available for adoption will be able to do so by appointment at the shelter.
While waiting for the facility to be built, the Animal Management Team has been based at the council headquarters in Kaikohe, and having to travel to and from the Northern Shelter in Kaitāia. Staff said the opening of the new facility will significantly reduce travel times and will see far fewer dogs transported long distances.
The shelter was built over nine months, but the project to create a purpose-built facility has been much longer. The land was bought three years ago with an existing dwelling and commercial kennels on-site - Melka Kennels.
The original plan was to spend $200,000 to upgrade the site to meet national animal welfare codes to house up to 24 dogs.
However, a thorough assessment of the buildings found they needed to be upgraded to meet national animal codes of welfare and it would almost cost the same as building a completely new facility.
The council said a purpose-built animal shelter also has the advantage of providing greater certainty over the facility’s lifespan with lower ongoing maintenance costs.
The cost of developing the new facility was about $2.4m. In July 2020, the council was awarded $1m for two animal shelter projects through a successful funding bid to the Provincial Development Unit following Government calls for post-lockdown, shovel-ready projects. The remaining budget for the southern shelter was drawn from existing budgets including from the Long Term Plan 2021-2031.
Other local hapū, Ngāti Tautahi and Ngāti Whakaeke, were included in the consultation process.