It would be wrong to say that the hard work is about to begin to turn Kaitaia's old Pak'nSave supermarket into a youth centre, because a great deal of hard work has already been done.

But the process is about to enter a new, much more visible stage. And Andrew Cuckney, who laid the foundations for Foodstuffs' granting of a 50-year-lease in exchange for $2, is keen to get started.

"The first thing we need to do is start on the building, so people know this is not a fantasy," Mr Cuckney said.

The immediate plan (through to Christmas) was to get the carpark "straight" (closing the Commerce Street access and probably instigating a one-way system from Puckey Ave to Taaffe Street), to landscape the surrounds and to decorate the front and side walls (which was in the hands of Shine on Kaitaia).


A financial entity, Kaitaia Youth Centre Ltd, had been formed, Mr Cuckney saying he believed the entire project would perhaps cost $1 million, with a lot of voluntary input.

It was a strong building, he said, with concrete and steel posts and beams, but he expected it would be 2020/21 before Kaitaia had a youth centre where young people, from the town and further afield, had a place to call their own, where they could expect a hand up rather than a hand out, to help them make the transition to the adult world.

"Basically the idea is to give youth a home," he said.

"Youth need structure. They have to have a home, and the community has to get behind it. What we have done so far is the catalyst."

The response to Foodstuffs' generosity in granting the lease had been "unbelievable", he added.

"The phone didn't stop ringing. I had calls from almost all over the world," he said.

"Now it's time for the community to come together to make it come true."

Mr Cuckney, who left his native Britain in 1969, now lives at Doubtless Bay, but still travels extensively. An engineer by trade, he describes himself as a development consultant who has worked in many parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East and the US, concept and detail designing structures ranging from hotels and hospital to "log mansions."

He fell in love with Doubtless Bay in 1974, and had long planned to retire there. Now semi-retired, it was time for "some voluntary work — and this (project) is quite enough for one person."