Gisborne will be home to one of the nation’s “pre-eminent research centres” under ambitious new plans from Mātai Medical Research Institute Trust.
Trust chairman John Pittar today confirmed Mātai had bought the Gisborne Holdings Ltd (GHL) Childers Road site to develop a campus supporting medical imaging research, medical sciences, and biotechnology.
“The trustees are very grateful for the wonderful support we have received from GHL, who have embraced our vision to build a campus facility and centre of imaging excellence that will position Mātai as one of the pre-eminent research centres in New Zealand.”
Gisborne Holdings Ltd is the district council’s commercial arm.
It purchased the 2.5ha site, which formerly housed St Mary’s School, in 2018 and had originally proposed 30-section housing subdivision before putting the property up for sale.
The site had a rateable land value of about $1m in 2018 but the details of boteh that sale and the latest one remain commercially sensitive. GHL chairman Dave Mullooly said following a tender process, the board and management of GHL were pleased Mātai Medical Research was the successful purchaser of the site and wished Mātai every success.
“We are excited by the community advantages this facility will bring, not only to Tairawhiti but also to the country as a whole. “The research and education opportunities provided by Mātai will bring increased generational health and wellbeing benefits, significantly enhancing the social, cultural and economic aspects of our district.
“The fact that this site will continue its role as a place of education and learning has not been lost on GHL in the significance of this purchase.”
Mātai director Dr Samantha Holdsworth thanked GHL “for enabling us to purchase the land for our health-related discoveries and new educational opportunities for our local community”.
“The Childers Road site ensures we have space for future expansion to develop our vision of a broader campus/ including a research facility, education and training, collaborative spaces for students and the public, accommodation and community gardens.”
The development will be led by Shane Kingsbeer of Kingsbeer Architecture, which has provided support in the design and concept phase.
The establishment of Mātai, a non-profit medical imaging research and innovation centre, was made possible through Provincial Growth Fund seed funding administered by Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, with additional support from Trust Tairāwhiti, the University of Auckland, JN Williams Memorial Trust, HB Williams Turanga Trust, Pultron Composites, Dame Bronwen and Dr Peter Holdsworth Trust, Fred Lewis Enterprise Foundation and many others.
The Mātai centre working on enhancing the capabilities of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) through research and development into advanced medical imaging software and machine learning.
“Through collaborative partnerships with our community, iwi health providers, pakeke and the ongoing important relational development kōrero with local iwi, Mātai is well placed to uplift our people in the research, science and technology spaces to provide Māori-led responses to health and well-being, and transformational change in health equity,” Mātai chief operating officer Leigh Potter said.