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Kesian Paymani and Jacinda Karaitiana want to bring the currently dormant Thames Youth Centre back to its glory days. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Revitalised Thames Youth Centre to reopen

The Thames Youth Centre is undergoing a seachange, and new board members Jacinda Karaitiana and Kesian Paymani are inviting the community to get involved.

The centre has been a part of Thames’ social fabric for decades, hosting bluelight discos, dances, and other youth-focused activities. In recent years the charitable trust which runs it has held regular events and activities for youth aged 11-24, from choir and dungeons and dragons games, to after school programmes and art workshops. 

Early in 2023 though, the centre closed its doors, although the trust remained active on the charities register. 

“The manager left a while ago, and then it has just been dormant, so there wasn’t really a board happening,” Jacinda told The Profile

“I used to come here when I was younger for different things and it was cool, I’ve got cool memories of this building.” 

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When Jacinda and Kesian heard the centre needed new management, they were quick to put their hands up. It’s just a temporary appointment, they said; their aim is to set the centre up for ongoing success as an independent community asset with a permanent board. 

“We want it to be diverse and we want [the board] to have different people who work in youth spaces. So we’re in the stages of … getting our vision together for where it’s going to head. It’s going to be different to how it’s previously been run though – more of a community centre than an individual kaupapa [programme],” Jacinda said. 

“We want to hold the reins for now until we can get enough people invested in it, but we’re not really keen to be in charge of it, just making sure that it gets a good flow and a good process going and it’s actually got longevity, because it’s not good if it falls over every time someone leaves the board.” 

Already, the pair have had several expressions of interest, and late in October, they began the mahi with a working bee to clear the centre out. 

“So many people have been keen to help out, which has been really awesome,” Kesian said. 

“[We had a] skip from Coastal Bins, we’ve had whole whanau come down and help us clear the last bit. 

“Christina Lynch [from] Mums Get it Done offered to come and clean the whole place.” 

While the pair are aiming for a grand opening in April or May, they plan to renovate the space first.  

“We want to paint it all, and then we want to redo the bathrooms, get better lighting and make it warmer. Just give it a little bit of love,” Jacinda said. 

“It’s gotta look nice. We work with kids; they want stuff where they can … do tik-toks in front of a wall or something, so we want it to be aesthetic for them to want to come here.”

Also on the to-do list is finding funding and people with the relevant know-how. 

“We have an email if anyone wants to help us,” Kesian said.  

“Not even money, just time, or expertise. I’m keen to see it up and running but you know, it’s a lot on top of what we’re already doing so it’s a balancing job.”

DETAILS: To get involved email Jacinda at