The hub, which has been officially named Te Tai Ohinga, will be located on Willis Street next to Saint Peter’s Church.
The name Te Tai Ohinga was gifted by Kura Moeahu, Chairman Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa, who has been working with supporting the Council to understand the history and narratives of Pōneke.
“Te Tai refers to the tides of the sea, and Ohinga is a word referencing youth which is derived from Taranaki and connects the opportunity for youth in Pōneke to make a resurgence now that we have a safe space coming for them to hang out. There will always be young people in Pōneke, just as the tide will always ebb and flow,” says Kura.
It’ll be a safe and welcoming space for young people to study, make new connections, get access to support, hang out, and simply have fun.
The creation of a youth space was initially identified as a priority in the 2021 Strategy for Children and Young People, and Te Tai Ohinga has since become a key outcome of the Pōneke Promise – Wellington City Council’s joint programme to make the central city safer, more vibrant, and welcoming.
One of the programme’s key focus areas is the delivery of fit for purpose community spaces, including Te Pokapū Hapori and Te Wahi Āwhina, both of which have opened since the Pōneke Promise launched in May 2021.
Community connection is such an important pillar of well-being, especially for young people in the wake of the pandemic. As Councillor Tamatha Paul explains, it’s about having a place to stand and feeling part of something bigger.
“Over the past three years our rangatahi have spent many months separated from peers, studying from home, and have missed out on so many of the social experiences of being a teenager.
“Not to mention the loss of the Central Library and Reading Cinema complex which were both popular spaces to hang out. The hope is that this hub will bring them together, instilling a sense of turangawaewae – a place where they feel empowered and connected and can be themselves.”
The space will be run by The Y, which also manages Te Pokapū Hapori, the inner-city community centre on Manners Street. Integrating the two facilities’ outcomes together will mean a greater range of programmes and services, bringing greater benefits to the community as a whole.
The Y has decades of experience managing similar spaces with a vision to build strong children, families and communities.
In-depth workshops held with Wellington City Youth Council and young people from across the city are helping shape the final vision for the youth hub, and bring the architects plans to to life.
The Y has also been holding street activations at the bottom of Cuba Street showing people the floor plans and discussing ideas. These workshops and activations build on insights gathered through previous pop ups, surveys, school engagements and drop-in sessions to ensure a wide range of young people had the opportunity to share their ideas and aspirations for the space. Co-branding work is also underway to develop the look and feel for the space based on the feedback received.
Construction is scheduled to begin soon, with Te Tai Ohinga expected to open its doors later this year with an official launch.
Council has allocated funding in the Long-term Plan to support the interim hub for six years, as suitable spaces are likely to replace this in Te Matapihi Central Library when it reopens in 2026.