Hastings District Council’s redevelopment of the city’s Municipal Building reached a significant milestone this week, with a blessing performed ahead of tenants and staff moving back in.
Hastings District councillors, staff, contractors and tenants attended the blessing, or whakawātea, which cleared the space with ancient Māori karakia/incantations and marked the transition from a full building site to a building undergoing its finishing touches.
The building has been closed since 2014 to undergo major earthquake strengthening and restoration work. This week, contractors, Gemco, will hand the building’s first floor and meeting rooms over to Toitoi staff.
Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said it was a hugely exciting time for the city.
“We are getting our building back even better than before and I couldn’t be more excited to have reached this point,” she said.
“A huge thanks to the team from Gemco and all the other contractors who had a hand in the design and re-build of this magnificent building.
“With the opening date in sight, we are going to see our vision for the Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre precinct truly come to life, and it’s going to be worth the wait.
“This is going to be a leading national venue for hospitality and events that our community can be truly proud of.
“We are all going to be able to enjoy it and make use of it – whether we have community groups using it for workshops or performances, visitors using the i-SITE or residents and visitors enjoying the hospitality, retail, and more, which will be on offer.”
Hastings District Council Kaiwhakahaere Matua, Ngā Toi me te Ahurea – Arts and Culture manager, Megan Peacock-Coyle said Toitoi staff were getting ready to move in and embark on the next stage of preparing the building to open.
“We will be doing the technical fit-out of the rooms – rigging lights and sound gear for shows, installing digital screens and signage, as well as other interior elements to finish off the spaces,” she said.
“With today’s blessing we are really getting excited now about opening it and making the most of its potential.”
One of Hastings’ most iconic buildings, the Municipal Building is a Category One Historic Building, and is the final piece of the overall Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre project. The previous phase of the Toitoi project included weather and sound-proofing the atrium to create Functions on Hastings, as well as the strengthening and restoration of the Opera House.
Tenants confirmed to take up residence in the Toitoi Municipal Building include Craft & Social, a new eatery and bar, Long Island delicatessen and takeaway foods, Ākina – a contemporary dealer gallery, Cellar 495 boutique wine cellar and bar, and the new, revamped Hastings i-SITE and Visitor Information Centre that will incorporate the Toitoi ticketing box office.
The tenants will begin opening to the public from early July, before the entire building is officially re-opened on the weekend August 5 to 7, with a community celebration.