After a journey of advocating and funding for the past 21 years, the dream of a new home for the Pasifika community in the Waikato will start to become real with a celebration ceremony in Hamilton for the $12 million Pan Pasifika Hub in a special event before the Moana Pasifika and Māori All Blacks rugby game.
The Pan Pacific Community Hub has been a dream in the making for K'aute Pasifika, and the larger Pasifika community across the Waikato, allowing a community that has been spread out and packed into small facilities across the region a home under one roof.
The celebration event will take place on Saturday at 3pm at Hinemoa Park in Seddon Rd where three years ago a casting vote from then Hamilton City councillor and Community and Services committee chairwoman Paula Southgate allowed K'aute Pasifika to secure the former bowling club site for their home.
"It is very exciting for K'aute Pasifika and the Pan Pacific community because they are a community that need some support. They are growing fast in our community and they are over represented in unemployment and poverty so this will afford them the opportunity to help their community," Southgate said.
"This will provide a range of services from childcare to public health to helping with employment and that is going to be open to everyone to use, and they have worked very hard for so long on a shoestring and I knew it was a no-brainer to support them."
Chief executive of K'aute Pasifika Trust, Leaupepe Rachel Karalus, said it will be nice to see the community unite to mark the occasion.
"The hub is about inclusion, ensuring the needs of the community are understood and met. The hub came about because of the community and is for the community. This is more than a collection of buildings. We know the hub will bring people together regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender, age and sexuality, and we want to acknowledge that," Karalus said.
"This has been a journey of over 21 years, we are grateful for the strong relationships and support from our mana whenua and Pacific communities."
There had been questions over funding around the Pan Pacific Community Hub after an initial request for government funding had been rejected, but after Hamilton City Council continued to throw their support behind the project, the Government awarded $8m through the Provincial Growth Fund to go along with almost $4m raised through community and philanthropic groups to build the purpose-built facility.
As part of the ceremony, former All Black Tana Umaga, who coaches the Moana Pasifika team, will be holding a captain's run on Friday for which local school children will also be selected to take part.
The game will kick off at 7.05pm and will be the first clash this year for the Māori All Blacks. It will be their first match in Hamilton since playing Samoa during the 2008 Pacific Nations Cup and the first time a team has played under the Moana Pasifika banner.
The centre will include an integrated health centre, an early childhood learning facility and an open fale-style space for community and cultural events.
K'aute Pasifika is a charitable trust based in Hamilton which provides health, education and social services to Pasifika communities and all other ethnicities who wish to access their services.
Hinemoa Park is part of the West Town Belt between Mill St and Rostrevor St. The park contains the former Stadium Bowling club, Hamilton Squash and Tennis, Hamilton Amateur Radio Club, and a large area of green space. There are also community groups temporarily using buildings at the park.