At the end of June the iconic Gisborne Hotel was officially purchased by Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou. The vision for the complex is the creation of a centralised hub offering a range of commercial, educational, and community services. A building which formerly housed a liquor outlet was also included as part of the sale, and will now be turned into a sport and recreational facility for youth.
The immediate plans for the redevelopment of the 3.2 hectare site, situated on the corner of Tyndall and Huxley Road in Kaiti, will take effect within the next few months. This involves converting a section of the main building into offices and meetings spaces for Whanau Oranga, the social services division of the Runanganui. At present Whanau Oranga operates across four separate buildings along Wainui Road. When the renovations are complete these services will then be housed at the same venue, providing a “one stop shop” for the wider community. It will also create benefits for the organisation through savings in cost efficiencies and improved cross- collaboration amongst staff.
Stage Two of the redevelopment will involve revamping the present conference and accommodation facilities. The kitchen and dining room will also be remodeled, including the establishment of a café. Once these facilities have been upgraded, it is envisioned that hospitality training courses will also be run on the site.
Dr Apirana Mahuika, the chairman of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou says the site’s new moniker contains a depth of meaning, reflecting the multiple purposes and benefits the complex will have in the near, and distant future.
“Te Tini o Porou can be translated to mean, “The many descendants of Porou.” All of our whanau and hapu within Ngati Porou are able to find a connection to this eponymous ancestor, and as a facility, “Te Tini o Porou” will be of benefit to the current generation of Ngati Porou, and those yet to come.”
“Also “Tini” means “many”, therefore the new name reflects the myriad of services, skills, talents and people who will be based at and using this facility. This includes the many whanau and organisations from the area who we work and collaborate with.”
Dr Mahuika is excited by the opportunities that “Te Tini o Porou” will offer to Ngati Porou youth.
“We now have the space to be able to provide training and recreational facilities for our young people. We can run Sports Academy programmes for our up and coming sports men and women, in our new gym and the surrounding field. We can provide class room space and tutors for our young people entering the hospitality, health and social services industries. We can also run cultural and sporting festivals, and any other event here which helps lifts the aspirations and self-esteem of our youth. Educating our rangatahi and providing pathways for future careers is going to be a major on-going feature of “Te Tini o Porou.”
The kaupapa behind the new community hub differs significantly from the original purpose of the building when it was developed in the early 1970s. Before the Gisborne Hotel’s owners Trudy and Joseph Meredith took over the establishment in 1993, it was known as the DB Gisborne Hotel, and was one of the many hotel’s built in New Zealand by the Dominion Breweries corporation in the middle of residential areas.
However over the past 21 years Trudy and her husband Joseph have predominantly operated the premises as an accommodation and conference facility. For Trudy the hand over of the hotel to Ngati Porou is a decision she is very proud of.
The vision for Te Tini o Porou is the same one that I had for this place 15 years ago, but people were not ready for it back then. I wanted to see it being used to help the community, and especially our young people and mothers. So I decided that I would hold on to it, until the opportunity arose for that dream to happen. Joe and I are really happy that Ngati Porou have got it, but it was my gut feeling that someday they would.”
“Our people are ideal for the hospitality industry, and I see the potential to invest in other areas where youth will benefit. We also need to awhi the whole family and their needs, and get back to the communal sharing of responsibilities rather than one on one. However I am only one person, but together Ngati Porou will be able to achieve a lot more than me on my own.”
Over 12,000 of the estimated 70,000 plus Ngati Porou Iwi members reside within the Gisborne and East Coast region. And a large majority of this population live within the Kaiti community where “Te Tini o Porou” is located. Although the new premises will largely cater for those who live in Gisborne, Dr Mahuika says that the benefits will eventually extend to Ngati Porou where-ever they may live.
“As the organisation gets bigger it needs the space to grow, so we can provide more services, programmes and experiences which help to develop the potential of our people. Because at the end of the day it’s all about people development. We can’t just sit on our money. Our future depends on how we accommodate our people now, and prepare them for the future. We can do lots with this building over time, so let’s not be restricted in our vision.”
The community will be invited to attend an official blessing of the “Te Tini o Porou” site in a few months time, before re-development work begins on the main building.
Te Tini o Porou’ s conference and accommodation facilities are available for large and small group bookings. Please ring Kuini on 06 868 4109 for more information.