25 May 2024

Waikato University embarks upon a $70m facility- the Pā

PM, Jacinda Arden recollects studying at the campus here

Waikato University has embarked upon building an innovative and versatile new facility, The Pā that is expected to transform the university’s on-campus experience for students, staff, visitors and the broader community.

The $70 million project, The Pā will replace the university’s W Block (old Law building) and includes a new main entrance, student hub, and marae.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Te Puhi Ariki Ngāwai hono i te po Paki, both alumni of the University, were guests of honour at the milestone event to break ground ahead of the construction. 

PM Jacinda Arden arriving
PM arriving to a traditional welcome. On her left is Jamie Strange, List MP

Traditional Mauri welcome was accorded to the PM when she arrived, accompanied by Hamilton’s Labour List MP, Jamie Strange and other distinguished guests.

Addressing the gathering, Jacinda Arden recollected the time when she started studying Bachelor of Communication Studies at this university in 1999.

“It feels like homecoming”, she said.

PM, Jacinda Arden
PM, Jacinda Arden addressing the gathering at Waikato University

She believed the community spirit had become stronger since her time at Waikato University and now.

“The connection between staff, students and the land has become stronger today,” the Prime Minister said.

Construction of this campus gateway and social learning space will commence in March 2020, following site preparations which begin later this month.  The Pā is set for completion by February 2022 and it is the largest capital works project in the Hamilton campus’ 55 year history.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley says, “The Pā will be a social and cultural learning hub that will transform our on-campus experience for students, staff, visitors and the wider community.  The central location will give students and staff a place to be inspired, to learn, meet, eat and recharge.

“It is going to be a fantastic space. It will be the new facility the campus needs to deliver the best on campus experience possible for students, staff and the community into the future,” he added.

Today’s ceremony was guided by leaders of Waikato Tainui and the Kīngitanga, and included the embedding of a whatu, a mauri stone, which symbolises the beating heart of the new university wharenui and the broader complex of The Pā.

PM at Univ
Ground-breaking ceremony

A new marae for the University community will be located in the heart of The Pā.

‘The Pā’ is a reference to the Māori concept of community and location. In the University context, the vision for The Pā is to create a welcoming and vibrant core facility for the Hillcrest campus.

The Pā will include a new main entrance to the campus, a student hub (including food outlets and social learning spaces), and a new University marae. The Pā will also provide the campus with renewed capacity for University and community events and activities.

From Hillcrest Road, The Pā will be the principal campus entrance, creating connection within the Hillcrest campus.

The Wharenui (central meeting house) will also be a premier teaching space, and will accommodate up to 100 people for noho/overnight stays.

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