A year ago, Raglan’s I-site shut shop and the potential to promote the area to visitors was looking bleak.
Thanks to the efforts of a group of passionate locals the Raglan iHub was officially opened recently – with a new name and a new focus.
For the team behind the initiative to take over the space – including Raglan councillor Lisa Thomson, Charlie Young, organisations Raglan Naturally, Raglan Museum, Raglan Business Chamber, Raglan Community Board and iwi representatives – it was an occasion worth celebrating.
“It has taken a year of a lot of hard work by a lot of people who understood the importance of this place,” Lisa says.
Much of the work behind the scenes to reinvigorate and rebrand the site was focussed on providing a better experience for visitors and the wider community.
“Sharing information is just one aspect of what we provide. We want to share the stories from our place, build relationships between our visitors and community, and share the values that are important to us,” she says.
Entirely operated by a team of volunteers, the iHub’s guiding vision is weaving experience through people and place.
Lisa reckons it’s the volunteers who will provide much of this vision as they promote the authentic stories of Raglan.
“They are the ambassadors; they bring a wonderful flavour to the iHub and they are all so invested in the community,” Lisa says.
Before moving to Raglan several years ago, retiree Charlie Watt had enjoyed sharing his time with various organisations in Hamilton and wanted to do the same in his new hometown.
“When I moved here, I was looking for somewhere to volunteer. At the iHub get to meet so many different people, that’s really what I like about this place,” he says.
As well as sharing the town’s stories, the iHub is filled with Raglan merchandise, art, books, food items, jewellery and clothing created by local artists.
“We don’t want to be in competition with what is already happening in town but we really want to provide another opportunity to promote the amazing creatives in our town,” Lisa says.
The iHub will also be highlighting the environmental issues that are important to the community and guiding people towards ‘stepping lightly on the land’ as they enjoy their holiday.
“We will promote reusables, remind people to take their rubbish and talk about freedom camping and the responsibilities that go with it,” she says.
Waikato District Council has given the iHub a few years’ lease rent-free and Lisa says the long-term goal is to be self- funded.
To find out about volunteering at the iHub contact Lisa at email@example.com