A residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit is set to move in to the abandoned Grays Funeral Home site, marking a fresh start for the land.

Te Utuhina Manaakitanga's residential unit will move to the facility next to Kauae Cemetery on Ngongotaha Rd after it signed a lease with Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands to take over the site.

A blessing was held over the weekend, and the site was renamed Kokoreke - the ancestral name for the land as discovered in a book by the late Don Stafford.

Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands general manager Tina Ngatai said the organisation had spent a lot of time and effort on the site after reluctantly taking it over when Grays Funeral Services was placed into receivership in 2014.


Grays had planned to build a major new funeral home alongside the cemetery, but the development went unfinished after cost overruns added $1.9 million to the original $1.38 million budget and the business was placed into receivership.

"I'm pleased to be able to move on to other things. We've spent a lot of time getting it to this point," Ms Ngatai said.

The signing of the lease was a great outcome, she said.

"We have ended up with good tenants and I think it will be a great fit for us."

Ms Ngatai said the organisation had been reluctant to take the land back but did so when receivers were unable to find a buyer. She said since then it had worked towards getting the unfinished building a code of compliance and up to standard, so it could be leased out.

Ms Ngatai said where possible it had used the contractors affected by the Grays receivership.

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Te Utuhina Manaakitanga general manager Donna Blair said the alcohol and drug counselling service would move into the new facility in six months, after renovations took place. Once that happened, its current Ranolf St premises would go back into the owners' hands.

She said the service was looking forward to moving into the new facility as it would be a "quiet, new building specifically designed for what we need".

She said the residential rehabilitation unit would initially be able to take 20 patients who would stay for eight to 12 weeks, but in the long term it hoped to extend that to a capacity of 25-30.

"While the new residential (unit) is still a few months off, people concerned about their alcohol and drug use can still contact the community service in Hinemoa St for outpatient support," she said.

- Additional reporting Kyra Dawson