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A massive community effort was celebrated in Queenstown at the weekend as the resort’s new $10 million Salvation Army community hub was officially opened.
The weekend’s events included a dawn blessing on Saturday morning, attended by about 150 people and led by matua Ken Te Tau and Rangi McLean (Ngai Tahu), an invite-only cultural celebration evening on Saturday, which included the Dunedin Salvation Army brass band and a waiata group from Christchurch, and the inaugural church service yesterday morning.
Salvation Army Queenstown community ministries director Andrew Wilson said it had been an "incredibly long road" to see the project, first mooted in the 1990s, to fruition.
Work ramped up in 2018 to create the new hub, at Frankton’s Remarkables Park, but along the way the growing need within the community changed the plan.
"Back when we were in the design phase, the idea was this would be a cut and paste of what we had in Camp St — we’d take what we had in Camp St, it would dissolve, and then we’d have a new space, essentially, like-for-like, just on a bigger scale, out in Frankton.
"But since then, the support services we have have had to increase so much ... it’s at a point now where we have to be across the two sites to meet the needs that we’re seeing through our doors."
"This has been our hardest year when it comes to housing and the inquiries, the concerns, people just calling up and asking for help with accommodation.
"Even some of our student support workers are having trouble finding accommodation — you can imagine the impact if we can’t get our student support workers or student counsellors accommodation what it means for the community long term."
Funding for the new facility came in part from the sale of the former Camp St premises and a Queenstown property officers lived in, along with various grants and other donations.
Construction began last August on the 1800sq m Pin Oak Dr site, which included a 120-seat auditorium, multifunction rooms, spaces for one-on-one meetings and a satellite family store.
Upper level office spaces had been leased to Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, Central Lakes Family Services and Te Kura, a national correspondence school.