"This is about the wellness of our people. The wellness of our mokopuna."
These were the words of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick at Friday morning's opening of Rotorua's new ambulance station, which as been 23 years in the making.
The station - Mauri Tau, Whare Waka Manaaki, Rotorua Ambulance Station - cost $11m.
Chadwick said the journey to today's opening "has been a long story."
"I never thought I'd see the day," Chadwick said.
R & B Property Group managing director Ray Cook said the $11m grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment last year fast-tracked the project.
"It's fantastic to see it finished," Cook told the Rotorua Daily Post.
Cook described the new custom-built facility as "state of the art" with its own power system and high earthquake safety level.
"It's been quite an achievement by the team of local subcontractors and merchants that have been involved."
Cook said the project was especially meaningful for him.
"I've been involved in lots of projects through my career in construction and this has been the most satisfying because of who the St John is."
St John chief executive Peter Bradley was happy to say the new station featured St John's first heated ambulance garage because it was important to look after staff.
"There's been a 12 per cent increase in calls in the Rotorua area in the last year."
Bradley said RSV was one of the causes behind St John recording its highest demand in history.
St John lakes territory manager George Clicquot said the investment in the station was an indication of its importance for staff and the community.
"This is a significant achievement in providing our ambulance staff with modern facilities that enable them to operate more efficiently," Clicquot said.
"It is a positive step in optimising our care for the people of Rotorua and the wider region."
Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare said he was proud to see how St John's leadership has engaged with local iwi on the project.
"They've given [the station] a Maori name, they've got more work to do but you know the service here must reflect the community it serves."
Henare said the Government wanted to support regional economies and to provide needed infrastructure.
"Having grown up in a bit of a rural town I see that the need for infrastructure is really important."
The new station, located on Te Ngae Rd, has been a collaboration between Ngati Hurungaterangi, Te Arawa, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, R&B Property Group and St John.
As the emergency ambulance service continues to experience growing demand in Rotorua, it is looking at ways of futureproofing to ensure the long-term needs of the community are met. St John is evaluating a property in Fairy Springs to operate as an additional response point, to further enhance ambulance response times to patients with the greatest need.