Hundreds queued outside the new Kmart store in Rotorua hours ahead of the official opening.
The investment by Pukeroa-Ōruawhata Group is hoped to be a great economic and social investment for local iwi.
Keen shoppers burst through the doors when they opened.
Local resident, Muffy Mitai, says she wanted to be first in line so she camped outside the store. “We tried three different tents," she says.
"None of them worked so we put a mattress outside the doors and we sat there.”
The wait has been worth it for local hapu and iwi. Pukeroa-Oruawhata formed a partnership with Kmart to deliver employment in the region and for the trust's descendants of Ngāti Whakaue.
Kmart store manager, Forrest Worthen, says, “We have heard from the local people here you know 'when, when, when is it going to happen?'. So for me just being able to be a part of and have the privilege of opening this store, it's quite personal for me.”
Pukeroa-Oruawhata Group manages properties in Rotorua on behalf of Ngāti Whakaue descendants.
It has created more than 650 jobs across several developments including more than 250 jobs at the Trade Central site. Kmart alone now employs more than 100 locals, 25 percent are of Ngati Whakaue descent.
Rawiri Waru of Pukeroa Ōruawhata says, “This has been a Māori initiative from the start to end. Pukeroa Ōruawhata have been here from day one. This has been a collective effort between Kmart, the council and the community.”
Minister for Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta, attended the opening and says, “this is a good example for the tribe- trustees who are able to do this here, to see this store and to work collectively with the company is excellent.”
Of the 1,700 people who applied for work, 100 were successful and took on their roles today.