Dawn karakia opens new 2degrees HQ: 820 people in Newmarket-to-CBD shift

It was 6am and dark as Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei kaumatua and kuia gathered in the blue neon-lit 2degrees foyer in Tāmaki Makaurau CBD.

Taiaha Hawke, a Ngāti Whātua Orākei Trust cultural advisor, explained tikanga, asking wahine to walk in front of tane on the first official tour of the new whare mahi for the telco.

Tangata whenua reciting the karakia included Te Aroha Grace who is one of the few Māori to take his wife’s surname.

They called out the unification kupu “haumi e, hui e, taiki e!” before more than 100 people gathered in the wharekai for whaikōrero.

Hawke spoke first, then Jason Reti who is 2degrees’ customer care kaitiaki kiritaki specialist. He also gave his mihi, telling of Ngāti Whātua and other tipuna.

2degrees chief executive Mark Aue [Cook Islands] spoke next, opening with “e nga mana, e nga reo”, telling of the 12-year journey going up against “the big boy telcos”.

David Clark, Digital Economy and Communications Minister, told those gathered how the move was an important step in 2degrees’ journey. The company’s role in New Zealand was important.

Tangata whenua sang He Honere, manuhiri sang back Te Aroha then a 2degrees chorus stood for the waiata Wairua Tapu.

Hawke said it was a “battle” for te reo to survive because it was an endangered language and unless those gathered envisaged their descendants not going to gatherings like this morning’s, they should do all they could to keep it alive.

Savouries, berry muffins and fruit platters arrived as the sky lightened and Aue told the Herald how 2degrees was occupying all levels two and three of the Mansons TCLM-developed building.

That is more than half a hectare or 5406sq m on a 12-year lease.

Aue said the pandemic had changed 2degrees’ plans because initially, only around 600 staff from 47 George St, Newmarket, were to move to 136 Fanshawe St.

“Our [customer] care building [team] in Khyber Pass Rd was not joining us originally. It was only George St but we changed it because we learned from Covid we could work remotely and flexibly and there was no loss to customers.

“So instead of 600 people, we’ve got more than 800. We’ve designed many of the spaces where everyone could come in, all 820. They wouldn’t all get a desk because there’s around 500 desks. But there are so many breakout spaces, designed to enable us to work in a different way. Everyone has a locker and it’s not hot-desking: there are neighbourhoods for different teams.”

Desktops are embedded with electronic occupation sensors Smartsense, by Smartspace. Those enable workers to find and reserve a desk or room and let others know where they are via an application.

Aue said staff worked their last day in Newmarket last Wednesday and wouldn’t shift till Wednesday this week. In the interim, they’re working from home. Carparking is severely reduced from around 40 in Khyber Pass Rd and 106 in George St to just 20 at the new headquarters.

“My role has a carpark,” Aue said, adding that he can walk to work. “If I’m not using it, it gets re-used or [goes] on Parkable.”

2degrees has 1800 network sites, 1.6m customers: 120,000 broadband customers and more than 100,000 mobile corporate customers.

Its mobile network currently reaches 98.5 per cent of the country.

The new HQ has enough concrete, enough to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools and so much timber that if it was laid end to end, it would almost cover the distance from 2degrees’ Fanshawe office to its customer store in The Base Shopping Centre, Hamilton.

The building is one of the country’s first 6-Star Greenstar rated buildings with a seismic rating of 100 per cent of new building standard.

Orientation tours of the new HQ are being conducted for staff today.

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