Contractors appointed, construction begins, at new $85m Waikato University student hub

It’s their largest capital works project in history and now construction is ready to get going.

The University of Waikato has appointed construction company Hawkins to build the $85 million development project, The Pā on its 7200 square metre construction site.

The university unveiled plans in early 2019 to build a two-level landmark development in the heart of the Hamilton campus.

The multi-million dollar project is designed to transform the on-campus experience and enhance the Waikato region’s reputation as an attractive destination for education.

It’s a build Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley said the university “really needs.”

The Pā site following demolition works

The Pā will be built on the site of the old law school. The law school shifted to its purpose-built Hillcrest Rd building in 2016.

Quigley said there’s nothing quite like The Pā at other universities.

“If I’m going to attract other students in other parts of the county and be able to sell to them the fact that we’ve got something unique that would make them leave Wellington or Auckland to come here, we need a few things that speak to the point of difference.”

Left to Right: executive offices, students hub, Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies and food outlet

By mid-2022 future students can utilise a new marae, shops, food court, learning spaces and a space designed for community events.

Quigley and the university’s executive wing will also be based in the complex.

“We’ve incorporated the executive office space in The Pā, so that it’s a combination of the university space and the new offices for the Vice-Chancellors office.

“Having the Vice-Chancellors office so close to the social space and marae is very unique.”

The Pā will create connections across the Hamilton campus, closely aligning with Te Manawa (The Student Centre), and lecture theatres in S and L Blocks.

Quigley said traditionally the marae was a part of everyday life for the Māori community, but now it’s tucked away on the edge of New Zealand universities.

Now, he said, the marae will be in the heart of the Hamilton campus.

The complex will also create a main entrance to the campus from Hillcrest Rd and enhance accessibility to the rest of the campus.

“Students can take the elevator straight up from the social science level right to the Hillcrest road level and into The Pā.”

Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley stands in front of the construction site

Hawkins built the award-winning Tauranga CBD campus in 2019, leaving Quigley confident in the appointment.

A “reasonable chunk” of the $85 million budget was spent in the demolition and groundwork process.

“Despite the difficult financial situation to the university with the uncertainty about international students, a large hole in the ground doesn’t do me any good.”

A new University marae complex will be located in the heart of The Pā.

It’s expected the project will provide a major boost for the region, creating an estimated 500 jobs across the Hawkins team and other local subcontractors, consultants and suppliers over the two-year period.

“There’s been a lot of discussion around New Zealand about the need to invest in infrastructure to help the economy at the moment, so jobs like The Pā are great for boosting the economy.” Quigley said.

The future of the university’s existing Te Kohinga Mārama marae has yet to be decided and the current Vice-Chancellor building [B Block] will continue as office space for the short term.

The student hub will provide spaces for students to socialise, rest, debate, eat and recharge. It will be the year-round home of campus life for students.