Rotorua people and their connection to food was the topic of discussion this weekend between Kai Rotorua and a group of visiting students.

Ten postgraduate students from the University of Auckland's School of Architecture spent the weekend in Rotorua on a field trip for their course on architectural design. They were visiting at the invitation of Kai Rotorua, who are acting as their client, briefing them to develop ideas for the potential food hub in Rotorua.

The group was tasked with consulting with Kai Rotorua members and other community groups and representatives, including Scion and Evolve Rotorua, to develop proposals for what a food hub could look like.

The students toured four possible sites where the food hub could be located and held workshops with community members to understand what to include in their plans.

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Kai Rotorua project leader Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea said the weekend provided an interesting opportunity to gather some design ideas for food hub plans.

The students were tasked with developing imaginative and innovative architectural
designs while being mindful of geographical space and the needs of the various organisations that would use the future building. Plans will be submitted to Kai Rotorua at the end of the semester.

Rotorua man and Auckland University teaching fellow Dr Andrew Burgess designed the course for students after hearing about Kai Rotorua's plans for a food hub.

"For our students, working with real clients is an important part of their learning experience. Spending the weekend with Kai Rotorua members and their partner organisations has been invaluable for them to hear how people envisage what this
Food Hub can be and what it would mean for the community in Rotorua," Dr Burgess said.

"As a Rotorua local myself, I've loved seeing how the students' perceptions of the city have changed and it's inspiring to see the excitement they have for how initiatives like a food hub can enhance our community."

Evolve Rotorua committee member Claire Mahon said the team have talked to the students about the food hub vision for the city "and how this fits with other initiatives that are also being planned".

"We've been encouraging them to be forward-focused in thinking about how a food hub could help shape and shift our community's connection to our public spaces as well as to food and sustainability," Mahon said.

The students' projects will be used by Kai Rotorua to continue discussions with stakeholders and attracting funding to this project.

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Student Joanna Ho said the weekend provided "very special insight into the community".