“A small seed has grown to Maturity” – Our History. Our origins began when Dr Fromow (resident Doctor of the Whitianga Hospital at the time) was discussing his concerns about some of the unemployed and less fortunate of the district. These concerns were shared by the Anglican Vicar the Rev Keith King and Presbyterian Minister Reverend Stuart McKenzie, who recalls a note in his diary on 17th March 1983 as “established the Whitianga Social services Group” at a meeting held in Mercury Bay House. By 1992 the service had expanded significantly. What began in the back of a disused building with one part time person and not even a telephone could now boast salaried workers and volunteers.
Early 2000 what was known as The Resource Centre in Coghill St was outgrowing its space, and given its range of services, it was decided to form a Trust. This would also help with government funding as at the time there was government talk about setting up a Charities Commission and that non-profit organisations would need to register.
In 2001 the new Trust looked for a new premises and with the assistance of Joan Gaskell, Chair of the local Community Board and Mr Peter Wyatt(founder of the Tauranga Compass Village,who formally established the Whitianga Community Services Trust) the old hospital seemed a good option as it had been sitting empty for a number of years. The grounds were under a Treaty Settlement and negotiations began with Ngati Hei and the Office of Treaty Settlements to consider a lease. The hospital required repairs and needed extensive internal renovations to make it suitable. A Work & Income employment scheme consisting of 7 skilled workers plus a number of local businesses took almost 6 months to support the transition into the new Social Services Centre.
The services increasingly grew over the ensuing 8 years and as there was a 6 month “out clause” in the lease given the likelihood the Treaty Settlement would occur, it was decided to obtain a building of our own. In December 2009 the first sod was turned on the new site of the Whitianga Social Services Centre. Trust Patron Frank O’Toole did the honours. The ceremony was attended by some of the key people who first thought up the idea of Social Services – Anglican VicarReverend Keith King and Presbyterian Minister Stuart McKenzie. Rev King and Ngati Hei representative Joe Davis blessed the new site at Cook Drive. Rev King said it was encouraging to see how “such a small seed has now grown to maturity”.