Benn Scott, Tipene Harmer and Peleti Oli have founded Niche Aotearoa, a unique inner city space providing a place for youth to find their passion. They are having the grand opening of their Market Street enterprise on Thursday, September 8.

“We’ve all come together as friends but we all have our unique passions,” Benn says.

Former EIT event manager Benn is in charge of screenprinting, with his own labelled clothing Individual Culture on show and for sale. Well-known New Zealand rapper Tipene Harmer is heading the music and film production side of the operation and Flaxmere barber Peleti Oli from Somelhz Touch will be showing how it’s done with a razor.

Niche Aotearoa, set up as a charitable trust and “moving into the social enterprise space” is committed to creating opportunities for young people to discover their niche in their areas of interest. They are launching a new recording label for aspiring artists and will also provide “taster” programmes in music and film production, screen printing, sound and lighting, retail and customer service, cash handling, cafe and barista, graphic design, barbering and Ta Moko/tattoo.

Day-to-day Niche runs as a store, selling all New Zealand-made street wear, New Zealand-only music, collectable shoes and skateboards. T-shirts can be designed and printed on site, a cafe with in-store barista is on hand and a barber available for a trim.

“This is a one-stop-shop to come into and make yourself feel better about yourself. We’re trying to bring the kids in to have a go at any one of these multiple programmes we have set up.”

Benn says kids can spend a day trying out whatever they choose to.

“We want to be able to differ from the public education system. You don’t know what you like doing until you give it a go.”

When young people have found something they may want to take further, they can then go on to a polytech or university and further their studies.

“We want them to feel like we do – to wake up every day and go to work excited about what’s ahead.”

He says the whole thing is self-funded and they have built the enterprise the way they want it – “to show we can do it”.

“We all believe in this so deeply – it can’t fail because we won’t let it.”

The venue will also be used for live, alcohol-free events, showing the next generation they can have a good time without having to lose themselves, Benn says.

“This has been built from the love of our friends and the community – we are doing it for the community. We feel this is a positive zone where people can come in and feel at home.” He says Niche is about feeding a positive lifestyle and passion into the community.

“If the community is focused on nothing but positive, then the community will be positive.”

Niche Aotearoa opening, Thursday, September 8, 6pm, 118 Market St North, Hastings.

Source: Hawkes Bay Today

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