New Life For Old Warehouse Building

Oct. 14, 2022, 3:05 p.m.

The old Warehouse building on Matthews Ave in Kaitāia is set to burst into new life in the near future. Te Hiku Basketball and Community Centre (Te Hiku Recreation Centre) is being developed into a state of the art facility that will develop future sports stars, provide a safe space for rangatahi to grow, learn and earn NCEA credits in different sports-related fields. 

Different collaborative whānau-based kaupapa will aim to strengthen the rangatahi of tomorrow alongside community partnerships. It will provide development opportunities for rangatahi wanting to upskill as a player or in coaching, refereeing and team management and will wrap sports, business, cultural, arts, education and community facilities all under one roof.  The facility will also be up to specification to host international basketball games.

Tautīnei spoke to Dave Davies-Colley, who is heading the project, about his aspirations for the centre;

"My vision for the centre is that it is alive with people using it from early morning to late at night, with as wide a range of uses as we can accommodate. A mixture of all age groups, but lots of youth. I want the community to develop a real sense of ownership and pride in this amazing resource.

We have been offered a lease on a hugely valuable site by FNDC and we have a unique opportunity to create something very special. I am proud of the group of talented people who have accepted the  challenge to develop this project. The strength of the group is the wide range of skills they bring, with a shared commitment to helping the community," said Davies-Colley.

The rōpū driving this project are the Te Hiku Recreational Trust. This includes Josh Port (Northland Basketball Manager), Pika McDonald (Kaitaia Basketball Association), Karen Riwai, Dave Davies-Colley, Rhonda Kite, Clayton Wiki, Craig Hobson and Keryn Pivac. A vast array of experience that will pull together a business plan that attracts economic rebuild. It is backed by different iwi in Te Hiku, as well as a range of social services and sporting organisations. Te Hiku Recreation Trust's media release states;

"This facility will deliver educational opportunity for all age groups to grow and capacity build. It will be a hub for small business people to connect, network and grow. Lighting capabilities will accomodate performing arts and cultural groups and sports courts for recreation in the area to thrive."

When Tautīnei asked Pika McDonald how he envisions this centre benefiting local rangatahi, he responded;

"When I think about this amazing opportunity our community of Kaitāia has been given, I get excited as I envision the wellbeing impact this will have on our families of Kaitāia and surrounding areas. The biggest barriers we face up here in the Far North are the financial barriers (cost to participate) and lack of equipped facilities to cater for multiple sporting codes as well as having enough affordable spaces for many other community groups to utilise. I’m excited because this facility will cover all of this and more, which will benefit a very large portion of our community in one way or another."

Josh Port (General Manager, Northland Basketball) is part of the Te Hiku Recreation Trust and knows first hand about the barriers that Te Taitokerau face in terms to accessing adequate sporting facilities. Another project that he is part of is the 100 Hoops Campaign that installed state of the art basketball hoops around Northland.

“For too long, sports have required people to go to them, to engage into their sport. We thought we’d flip that idea on its head, and make it so anyone, anywhere, in Northland, can access a hoop for free and get out and enjoy the sport that we all love.” 

Caleb Ewen, a former basketball player, and a proud descendant of a Far North small rural town, Te Kao, has seen the impact this hoop has had on his tamariki and rangatahi around the area. 

“Where I come from in Te Kao, there’s a couple hoops that have been put up at the school there, so I know it’ll be really beneficial for kids up there."

Te Puni Kōkiri’s ‘Ngā Māori i Ngā Mahi Tākaro’ Report (Māori in Sport and Active Leisure Report) explains that 71% of rangatahi aged between 5 and 17 years old are active and basketball is in the top five sports that Māori seem to favour. Raymond Cameron supports this research and spoke to Te Hiku Radio about the positive benefits that playing basketball had on him, his family and the rangatahi that he coached in 2019.

Te Hiku Centre aims to be a catalyst for community connection, empowerment and unity. Through partnering with other local agencies and providers, the Centre will provide safe spaces for the rangatahi of today and tomorrow and will also hire out its commercial kitchen for business and training use. It's central location is familiar to many as the venue for Kaitaia Markets. 

Craig Hobson, Te Hiku Recreational Trust Trustee and Ngāi Takoto iwi representative, envisions a collaborative holistic and beneficial initiative that sets rangatahi up with life skills such as resilience, sportsmanship and educational success. Working closely with rangatahi on a daily basis, he has the skills and tools to guide rangatahi through a journey of growth whilst playing sports or earning micro-credentials in different sports related and well-being fields.

Media Engagement and Ngāi Takoto iwi representative, Keryn Pivac spoke about her vision for the facility and how she hopes it to benefit local rangatahi;

"Sports in the Far North is not just sports. As a mother to very active tamariki, I see the benefits of their engagement in different sports teams and environments. The challenges, setting goals, triumphs and failures. It all matters and helps them develop into young adults with realistic mindsets. The small things do matter, the routine, caring for equipment, working through things that pee them off and identifying areas for improvement. Humility and team work, sports is a big deal and builds life long friendships and a tool-kit that helps our rangatahi navigate the wider world. I have found that sports helps my tamariki navigate many adversities and such a facility is going to make a big difference in their lives," said Pivac.

The mahi that has been going on outside of the development of this new facility also supports the ethos embedded within, such as building community collaboration, resilience and opportunity. Combined with the extensive range of skills behind the rōpū driving this project, our local community and rangatahi are in good hands.

"We think that Te Hiku Centre will become the heart of a thriving Far North community," details the Te Hiku Recreational Trust.

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