HomeNewsNew life for a building that played a big role in raising generations of Palmerstonians

New life for a building that played a big role in raising generations of Palmerstonians

By UCOL on Wednesday, 04 May 2022

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith and UCOL | Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Linda Sissons cut the ribbon to the open the UCOL | Te Pūkenga new Workhub facility

A building that helped nurture generations has been strengthened and modernised so that it can help connect UCOL | Te Pūkenga students to their future careers.

Built in 1929, the former Palmerston North Plunket Rooms in King Street is now the Workhub – a space for industry to meet with students from the UCOL | Te Pūkenga Creative, Business & ICT, Trades, Health & Science courses.

Today, Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith and UCOL | Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Linda Sissons opened the rejuvenated building which boasts:
  • A ten-person board room with teleconferencing facilities
  • A teleconferencing room
  • A creative space with workstations and a drinks station
  • Two bookable industry rooms.
UCOL | Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Linda Sissons said Workhub was established three years ago and is growing from strength to strength. “Workhub is where industry, government and charities meet UCOL | Te Pūkenga ākonga who go on to participate in collaborative projects, apprenticeships, internships, clinical and industry placements.”

Linda Sissons thanked Mayor Grant for opening the strengthened and refurbished building and acknowledged the $30,000 contribution to the project from Council. 

Mayor Grant Smith said UCOL | Te Pūkenga is a key city partner and has a long history of protecting historic buildings, including the Palmerston North Technical College across the road. “We have retained another significant building that has been part of the King Street streetscape for generations. It fits the building will continue to nurture people, this time providing them with a helping hand to enter the careers they trained for.”

Workhub Facilitator – Creative Industries Tricia Falkner said it is exciting to launch the next phase of Workhub. “We now have a purpose-designed space to enable Workhub to grow further.”

To mark the opening of the building, Bachelor of Creative Media ākonga Dearna Schofield and Laura Cannon have created a mural depicting ‘connections with new beginnings’. While an official opening ceremony will be held later this year, public tours can be arranged on Wednesday 18 May, as part of Tech Week.

Two people outside the UCOL | Te Pukenga Workhub building

About the building: The Plunket Rooms were designed by Ernst West of LG West and Son, who also designed the more famous Soldiers Club and the Ward Bros building in the city. It is a brick single-story building in the neo-Georgian design. In 1997, Manawatū Polytechnic took over the building before it became part of UCOL | Te Pūkenga. The property’s acquisition was part of a project to significantly expand its Palmerston North campus in the late twentieth century. The building was used as a student health centre in keeping with its original health-related purpose. In 2012, the building was closed and fenced off after the Palmerston North City Council identified the building as potentially being earthquake-prone. The building is protected under the Palmerston North City Council District Plan, Section 17A: Schedule of Buildings and Objects of Cultural Heritage Value, Ref 19. 

About Whānau Āwhina Plunket: Whānau Āwhina Plunket supports caregivers by providing services and teaching focused on baby and childcare. Founded in 1907 by Dr Truby King, the Plunket Society had its first presence in Palmerston North by 1908. Aside from the core functions of the Society, Plunket Rooms around the country were essential gathering places for women, especially for rural women visiting town with their babies, and generated broader community support networks.

About UCOL | Te Pūkenga: UCOL | Te Pūkenga inspires ākonga (and whānau), businesses, and their communities to succeed. We are a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga – a strong, unified vocational education system that makes collaboration easier. UCOL | Te Pūkenga is an educational institution with a history dating back to 1896, and has campuses in Manawatū, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Horowhenua.