Central Hawke’s Bay’s highly anticipated Knowledge and Learning Hub - Te Huinga Wai, opened its doors to the public for the first time today following a small community opening under COVID-19 event restrictions on Friday evening. Situated on Bogle Brother’s Esplanade, Waipukurau, in the building commonly known as the ‘Old Bucks’ building – the Knowledge and Learning Hub - Te Huinga Wai will be home to a temporary Library and associated services for at least five-years. It will deliver a range of programmes to bridge the digital divide, offering access for businesses, self-employed people and the community; with free Wi-Fi, co-working spaces and areas to present digital products and services.
The Hub was formally opened on Friday afternoon by a small group in accordance to COVID-19 event restrictions. The opening included a karakia by Whaea Amiria Nepe Apatu, and a walk through of the new facility for Elected Members, Manawhenua, representatives from key funders Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit and Centralines, Council staff and supporters from the community, including whānau of Mrs Margaret MacGregor, a private contributor of the Hub. In her opening address, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay Alex Walker said she was lost for words. “This space has been the coming together of a number of very important kaupapa for us here in Central Hawke’s Bay,” said Mayor Walker. “When we think about what a Thriving Future looks like, it is about our commitment to our young people, but it also relies on the way we are connected as a community and how we strengthen and enable businesses. To create a platform for all of this through Central Hawke’s Bay’s new Digital Hub, and to connect it to a new library service, is incredible.”
Funded externally by Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, as well as other key sponsors including Centralines and the late Mrs MacGregor, the facility provides the opportunity to fast-track the reinstatement of a library service in Waipukurau, after the unexpected closure of the Waipukurau Library in 2020. Deputy Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay Kelly Annand said walking through the Hub made her emotional, and that it was moments such as these which are the reason she ran for Council. “This space is hugely important to our wider community,” said Deputy Mayor Annand. “This will be where ideas and plans come to life, and where people can be innovative and create. It will be known as many different things, for many different people, and that is really exciting. “The intention of this facility is to ensure digital enablement, business service and community connection to knowledge and learning – a bringing together of the waters of life. “Through the Knowledge and Learning Hub – Te Huinga Wai, we will be able to try and test new ideas and consider the huge growth we are experiencing in Central Hawke’s Bay to shape what library services will look like going forward. “Thank you to our very patient community for allowing us the time and space to do this. We look forward to working with you over the years to come decide what the future will look like.”
Work began on the site at the end of June 2021, and is the some of the most notable construction work Council has completed since 2016. Design and procurement groundwork were completed in March 2021, and Council had to work through a rapid process to finalise plans before the submission of building consent and landlord approval – all turned around in under 12 weeks to meet the timeframes of Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit and the return of a service to Waipukurau. Delays due to the recent COVID-19 lockdown meant the facility’s planned August opening was extended to September. The Knowledge and Learning Hub - Te Huinga Wai is now open to the public, however COVID-19 Level 2 restrictions remain in place with distancing create an uncertain time to confirm wider community events and programmes. An update on programmes and other activities in the new Hub will be provided as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow for the commencement of these activities, programmes and events.