SUSTAINABLE: Kai Rotorua committee members Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea, Jasmine Jackson, Monica Quirke and Yumiko Kawano visit Tuhoe’s Te Kura Whare to see what features they can incorporate into their own living building. Photo Louis Klaassen. D7324-5

TUHOE’S Te Kura Whare is becoming the benchmark for those wanting to create sustainable buildings.

On Wednesday, representatives from Kai Rotorua toured the building to see how its features could be incorporated into their own planned building.

Committee member Jasmine Jackson said the group came to Tuhoe as there were not many examples of completely sustainable buildings in New Zealand.

“We came to learn from Tuhoe and share their experience and their knowledge. We wanted to ask practical questions like how the solar panels manage on a cloudy day or at night … the solar panels will be crucial as we will be running a commercial kitchen.”

Kai Rotorua was also interested in learning about the social aspects of Te Kura Whare.

“There’s so many cars here, and its midday on a weekday,” said Ms Jackson.

“We’re going to be creating a community hub too and we want to know what aspects bring people in. What is it here that people enjoy?”

The Kai Rotorua committee already has some plans about what features their building will incorporate.

“We will have an on-site cafe and will have several social enterprises operating out of it, like school lunch service – Ka Pai Kai,” said Ms Jackson.

“We will also have on-site gardens and trees and plan to have a kumara museum.”

The kumara museum will hold the story of the traditional food and Ms Jackson hopes it might entice tourists to visit the building.

Kai Rotorua aims to encourage more individuals, families and communities to plant their own food.

“We want to create more self-sustainable, resilient communities,” said Ms Jackson.

“After the earthquake in Christchurch people were cut off from their food supply; we need to learn to be more resilient. With climate change as well, we will be experiencing more and more natural disasters than before. We need to adapt to climate change and backyard gardens are one way to do that.”

Rotorua Lakes Council has offered the group four different sites to choose from at a peppercorn rental.

“They are all central, but we need to do soil testing first to see which would be most suitable. We’re also asking for feedback from the public,’ said Ms Jackson.

While their building is still at least three years off Ms Jackson said the team was “grateful to learn from people who have done it all before”.