Kmart fever hits Ro­torua

Rotorua Review - - FRONT PAGE - BENN BATH­GATE

Ar­riv­ing out­side Ro­torua’s new Kmart at 1am - seven hours be­fore it opened - Beckie Rans­field thought she’d be first in the line. She wasn’t. Tapu Mi­tai and Tar­ron Wir­i­hanaBaker took that spot, ar­riv­ing at 8pm the night be­fore - 12 hours ahead of the store open­ing.

‘‘Our fam­ily came down and had din­ner with us last night,’’ said Mi­tai.

Wrapped up in their dress­ing gowns against the morn­ing chill, the pair said they wanted to be first in line to se­cure one of the open­ing day goodie bags.

As for Rans­field, she was there with a pur­pose.

She said she wanted to get a seven-piece swing set for her mokop­una, though she sounded a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed not to be first in the queue.

‘‘I just want to be in there. I was hop­ing to be the first.’’

She need not have wor­ried, be­cause at the ap­pointed hour - 8am on Fri­day - Rans­field was first cus­tomer through the doors of Ro­torua’s ea­gerly awaited Kmart.

Al­though the doors of­fi­cially opened at 8am, the pro­ceed­ings be­gan an hour ear­lier, with a powhiri and school chil­dren per­form­ing wa­iata. Among the dig­ni­taries present were Labour Min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Maori Af­fairs, Nanaia Mahuta, Ro­torua MP Todd McClay, Wa­iariki MP Ta­mati Cof­fey and Ro­torua Mayor Steve Chad­wick.

But most peo­ple gath­ered were in­ter­ested in nab­bing a bar­gain.

Aroha Karaha and Whetu Taikato left with a with a trol­ley full of toys, home­wares and ‘‘some­thing from ev­ery de­part­ment ‘‘, while Vic­tory Ta­mati, Lo­mano Ni­uapu and Lazarus Dixon had their eyes on some gi­ant panda, mon­key and cat heads.

Kmart head of prop­erty Ben Smith said he had at­tended more than 50 store open­ings, but none quite like the Ro­torua one.

‘‘This is one of the most mov­ing open­ing cer­e­monies I’ve been to.’’

He said the store, the 21st in New Zealand, had been ‘‘a long time in the mak­ing’’.

‘‘For around 10 years we’ve iden­ti­fied Ro­torua as need­ing a store.’’

Chad­wick said a Kmart in Ro­torua was one of two things the coun­cil had re­peat­edly lob­bied for. She said the store’s ar­rival was a sign of con­fi­dence in the city.

Mahuta also praised PukeroaOru­awhata Group for the project and for the more than 100 new jobs had been cre­ated, but she had a warn­ing for the new staff. ‘‘The shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence on Box­ing Day will be the real test.’’

She said the open­ing also marked the third stage of the Trade Cen­tral de­vel­op­ment in the heart of the city.

Pukeroa-Oru­awhata has trans­formed the for­mer Post Of­fice and Tele­phone Works de­pot in to a re­tail cen­tre with Kmart as its an­chor ten­ant.

‘‘This in­vest­ment by PukeroaOru­awhata is a great eco­nomic and so­cial in­vest­ment in the city and its peo­ple,’’ she said.

Pukeroa-Oru­awhata Group man­ages prop­er­ties in Ro­torua on be­half of Nga¯ti Whakaue descen­dants. It has cre­ated more than 650 jobs across its de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing more than 250 jobs at the Trade Cen­tral site.

The fes­tive theme was con­tin­ued by Kmart Ro­torua store man­ager For­rest Worthen. ‘‘It feels like Christ­mas morn­ing.’’ Ex­cite­ment has been grow­ing in the town for some­time with a Face­book event for the open­ing show­ing more than 6500 peo­ple as in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing.

When Kmart opened its last New Zealand store, in Pe­tone, more than 1000 peo­ple were wait­ing out­side at 8am.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.