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Local Groups & Clubs

Breaking of the ground for new extension

It was a crispy cold experience standing in the side grounds of Whitianga Social Services, Wednesday morning, 12 June.  Three tree stumps with painted pink crosses on their bark, stood like cold sentinels (the council had cut their trunks and branches down in preparation for the build).
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 

The official gathering for the beginning of the new extension for Whitianga Social Services; top right, Peter Van der Putten, Project Manager, and Chrissie Roe, long time volunteer, together break the soil.

About twenty-five people gathered for this symbolic beginning – turning the earth with a shovel to begin a new extension to the existing buildings of the Whitianga Social Services Trust (WSST).

The current premises of Whitianga Social Services for some years have not been able to accommodate community groups who seek a place to meet their clients and to have clinics from out of town. “We have had to turn away people on many occasions due to not having room available,” says Peter Van der Putten. This project started in 2018 with a feasibility study done by an independent  organisation establishing the need for extra space. Funding was raised from Trust Waikato of $220,00 but the then Manager and Board of Trustees decided to postpone the extension. Thus, the funding was returned and the project on the extension stalled.

In the next period, the need for more space did not go away. It was decided to recommence the extension project, ably supported by the new Manager, Tony Marsters. Peter Van der Putten was appointed Project Manager. There were a few challenges with the building permit being conditional on some redesigning of the existing plan. Part of the courtyard needed to be utilised to accommodate two clinic rooms and the toilet facilities. “The extension is a little smaller than first planned, says Peter. “The Resource Consent to increase the footprint has been approved and a building permit has been obtained. Thee building will proceed.    The work of designer Susan Watters was especially acknowledged by Peter.

This project received funding from Trust Waikato – $290K, Lotto New Zealand – $400K, Board of Trustees $150K (self-funded), and a Westpac Loan of $171K.

Joe Davis, Kaumatua Ngati Hei gathered everyone together for a mihi whakatau. He spoke warmly of the history of the land on which the WSST stood and acknowledged the valuable work of the Trust over many years and that he had been a part of its journey as it had grown serving the people of this district.

Deputy Mayor, and Councillor, Terry Walker spoke in Mayor Len Salt’s absence due to illness. He welcomed everyone and affirmed the importance of the project.

The chair of the WSST, Mark Ambler acknowledged and thanked the organisations that had granted funds and supported this much needed project. He spoke of Peter’s great work in managing the project and sorting out the many challenges. The builders of the extension, Richard and Hannah Warwick, of HAMR homes were both present to see this beginning.

Joe Davis’words of blessing of this organisations work, past, present and future and his assurance of partnership were taken up by Peter  in his speech outlining the history and details of the Social Services Trust. Peter responded forthrightly, “We appreciate so much this blessing as we go into the future, our partnership with you is vital and important to this town.”

Peter shared the honour of breaking the ground for the new extension with Chrissie Roe, one of the longes serving volunteers at the WSST.

Another milestone has been reached for the Whitianga Community Services Trust.