Now open, the Municipal Building is the final piece of the Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre puzzle. The precinct development has been an investment in the cultural and economic revitalisation of Hastings city.
The Municipal Building project was the final part of the Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Event Centre work programme. This also included the earthquake-strengthening and refurbishment of the Toitoi Opera House and redevelopment of the former Plaza into the multi-use space: Functions on Hastings.
Earthquake strengthening and interior redevelopment were the two main stages of the Municipal Building project. The two streams went hand-in-hand.
Mid 2015: Ahead of public consultation to help find the best way forward for the Opera House, Plaza and Municipal Building an Independent Working Party (IWP) was established to formulate potential options for the wider precinct. The recommendations put to Council later that year included the need to find a new use for the Municipal Building that would justify the strengthening costs.
February 2017: The Municipal Building Working Group was established to inform discussions about the future use of the facility. This comprised members of the arts community, iwi and others closely involved with the facility, some over many years.
July 2018: Based on those in-depth discussions architects Matthews & Matthews Ltd, together with Dena Aroha Bach, presented draft concept designs for the Municipal Building to Council.
September 2018: Concept designs were presented to the community at a public meeting held at the Hastings City Art Gallery and published in the HB Today newspaper. The public was invited to add their voice to the conversation through a feedback form on the Hawke’s Bay Opera House website.
December 2018: Further community engagement through a ‘pop-up’ booth in the Hastings central city enabled further conversations with business associations, community and performing arts groups, developers, working group members and the public.
Feedback gathered from community engagement indicated a desire for a logical and fitting focus to be identified for the Municipal Building reflective of its history. It also needed to function as a companion to the Toitoi Opera House and Functions on Hastings.
Based on this community feedback, the following aspirations were established:
Integrated and future-proofed facility
- Integrated with the Hastings City Centre Public Spaces Revitalisation Plan – additionality to other investment
- Key identified heritage features preserved/enhanced
- Flexible and adaptive design and spaces
Value for money community facility
- Optimum use of external capital
- Municipal Building and wider Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre is operationally sustainable
- Enhances and showcases performing arts
- Complementary events/conference space to Functions on Hastings
- Provides pathways for youth
- Enhances Toitoi users' experience
- Showcases Ngāti Kahungunu and Takitimu performing arts
Based on this, a combination of commercial and community use most closely aligns with the project's goals and is Council's preferred option for the future use of the Municipal Building. This operating model also aligns with the Long Term Plan and will be achieved through a mixed model of commercial tenancy and public spaces.
The development of the Municipal Building will bring economic and social benefits to Hastings. It will be a centre for activities the whole community can enjoy, it will be a place we can all be a part of with a shared sense of belonging.
The ground floor will include a mix of hospitality and retail tenants, alongside a newly created flexible space for arts and performance. Meanwhile, the first floor will be restored to its former glory, offering a selection of spaces for hire, suitable for groups from 10 to 250 - in a fully refurbished, category one historic building with modern technology options.
The new look Hastings i-SITE and Visitor Information will open on July 4, and will be a place for visitors and locals to go and find out what’s happening in Hastings and wider Hawke’s Bay throughout the year.
Offering information through a mix of digital, interactive and traditional methods, the Hastings i-SITE is innovative and unique (and unlike any other regional information centre) so well worth a visit.
The i-SITE will also incorporate the Toitoi-Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre Box Office, selling tickets to events at Toitoi, and other venues and locations around the country, so for those that prefer to talk to someone face-to-face about event tickets, they just need to pop in and talk to the experts.
And last but not least, the i-SITE will offer a great retail selection of Hastings-inspired art, clothing and souvenirs, as well as generic New Zealand items. Call in and say hi to the team, they’d love to see you.
Ākina means to encourage and urge on, which is what owner Sacha van den Berg (Ngāti Kahungunu, Cook Island, Dutch) intends to do for the artists represented in her new contemporary gallery space. Ākina is also where she grew up – in Ākina St, just a stone’s throw from the Municipal Building.
A celebration of the best of Hawke’s Bay, and those with connections to this rohe, Sacha says Ākina will focus on toi Māori, Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, and indigenous art, but not be limited to it. “Ākina will be a mix of curated shows and object art with a very intentional approach to its relationships – both with our artists and those who choose to buy work.”
Sacha is focused on providing wraparound support for both artists and buyers, so everyone feels welcome and safe in her space. “I want Ākina to be a space where contemporary art can start conversations, challenge perceptions and help us all grow together, as a community.”
Cellar 495 is the brainchild of local Master of Wine, Michael Henley. The name comes from Michael’s Master of Wine number – he is the world’s 495th Master of Wine.
Envisioned as a boutique wine cellar and bar, Cellar 495 will offer its visitors a wine-focused hospitality experience. A tasting room and bottle shop by day, and a wine bar by night, Cellar 495 aims to demystify wine by offering access to the expertise of Mr Henley, who has spent his life surrounded by the world’s best wines.
“We really want people to come in and learn something. We have the expertise to take you on a journey through wine – you can order what you like, or you can trust us to make the selections for you. Either way, we know you’ll be surprised and delighted by what Cellar 495 offers.”
Craft & Social
Craft & Social live and breathe hospitality, and can’t wait to present their flavour-driven small plates to share – a similar vibe to well-known celebrity chef Al Brown’s Depot Eatery in Auckland.
Owner Damon McGuiness says they’ve seen a lot, done a lot and absolutely love the game.
“We’re proud to be part of the new drive and energy recreating the Hasting’s social scene.
“When we first saw this iconic site in the municipal building in early 2020 it felt like the under structure of an industrial bridge. Massive pillars, steel reinforcing and a jungle of concrete.
“It's a fine art playing with historic building consents and to encourage the site to breathe and dance again. This girl is industrial underneath, not changing that. We’ve just taken her shopping for new shoes and a dress, and she can't stop smiling!”
Check out these menu teasers to get your mouth watering in anticipation:
- Fried prawns, sweet chilli Jam, wakame & black sesame
- Coconut & lemongrass chicken salad, cucumber, pickled ginger, candied nuts
- Beef Randang, toasted coconut, sticky rice, crispy shallots
- Angus Beef & Swiss cheese sliders, chipotle mayo & iceberg
Long Island Delicatessen
Long Island Delicatessen will be a takeaway deli with a focus on fast, healthy food on the corner of Heretaunga and Hastings St (in the former Hutchinson’s site).
With a 4.5m long island counter at its centre, hence the name, owner Kristy Isaacson says visitors can expect a huge salad bar, plenty of protein choices and Ottolenghi-inspired food.
“Our food will be healthy and quick with lots of bright colours and big flavours. We’ll have a rotating offering throughout the day – with different cabinet food for breakfast and lunch.”
Ms Isaacson is passionate about ethical and free-range food and has a sustainability-focused approach to business.
She has previously lived in Christchurch, Melbourne and London and chose to open her new hospitality business in the Municipal Building because the laneway reminded her of those cities.
“It’s the perfect place to create my big city dream in this small city that I love.”
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