March 4, 2020, 5:25 p.m.
The big dream for a youth centre in Te Hiku o Te Ika has gradually turned into a nightmare.
Two years ago, He Whānau Mārama Trust and Shine On Kaitāia made headlines after they were sought out by the lease owner of the former Kaitaia Pak’nSave building to help with the planning and development of a Kaitaia Youth Activity Centre. The 50-year building lease was secured for just $2 by Director of Kaitaia Youth Center Ltd (KYC) Andy Cuckney, as reported by Seven Sharp in 2018.
Project Leader Micah Tawhara said the Shine On Kaitāia team were initially apprehensive and sought advice from the community about what development might take place, the best activities for the site and ensuring the best operational systems were in place for a sustainable youth and community activity centre for Kaitaia and the wider Te Hiku region.
“This building was a huge part of our dream. Not only is it in the centre of Kaitaia but also the center of Te Hiku. This is the heart and we wanted to see that heart beating” Ms Tawhara said.
A relationship breakdown between the leaseholder and Shine On Kaitaia has left the dilapidated building abandoned and still out of action, something youth navigator Karis Roberts is not happy about.
“This is sad. Not just sad for myself, but sad for our whānau who have put a lot of effort into the dream we had. At the end of the day, there’s still nothing for us rangatahi - it’s still us who are missing out,” said Roberts.
Shine On Kaitāia had to make the decision to step away from the building as the venue for the youth centre and have decided to cease their relationship with the current leaseholder.
Ms Tawhara acknowledged the complexity of the situation but said ‘the dream’ is not completely over.
“We are keeping the faith. We have to for our rangatahi. It’s going to be a huge challenge but we live in a supportive community who are aware of the needs of our young people,” said Ms Tawhara.
An online fundraising campaign has started with a Givealittle page.