Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was a special guest at Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre today, enjoying an exclusive preview of the facility ahead of its official opening on February 29.
Accompanied by Kaumatua Jerry Hapuka, Ms Ardern oversaw the re-dedication of te kohatu mauri (the mauri stone), which was previously presented to the Opera House on behalf of Ngāti Kahungunu iwi to symbolise the special relationship between the Hastings District Council, the community and Ngāti Kahungunu.
Also in attendance were a number of local school students and community members who have been involved with the Opera House and its earthquake strengthening project, in various capacities, throughout its history.
Ms Ardern told the audience that a lot of dedication had been shown by many agencies, groups and individuals to help reinstate this facility, the “jewel in the crown” of Hawke’s Bay and a significant heritage building for Aotearoa.
She said that prior to visiting she asked someone local to tell her what this place meant to them and got 12 lengthy texts in reply with different memories, a lifetime of memories, and she heard of their hope for the future for what this place might mean for their children and grandchildren.
“A building like this is where we build memories, communities and ourselves … for breathing life back into this space I acknowledge and thank you.”
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst also acknowledged all the hard work that had gone into resurrecting the building after its closure in 2014.
“We have created something special and unique, a place where we can celebrate together, a place of goodness that will inspire and capture hearts and minds.
“It will be a venue for community, national and international events – a centre of excellence that will also foster and support the hopes and dreams of our tamariki and rangatahi.
“It will transform and ignite the CBD; and be a place that every day will be filled with aroha.”
After the ceremony Ms Ardern was taken on a short tour of the facility, which will open with two community events at the end of next week.
On Friday 29, a Toitoi Homecoming dawn blessing will be held outside Toitioi at 5.30am, open to all, free entry.
On March 1, from 10am to 2pm, the public is invited to the free Homecoming – Community Festival at Toitoi for lots of fun activities and the opportunity to explore the newly revamped buildings.
20 February 2020
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