The long-standing dream of a dedicated hub for football in Oceania is now a reality following completion of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Home of Football in Auckland, which has been gifted the Māori name Te Kahu o Kiwa.

The complex was opened with a Waerea (blessing ceremony) attended by esteemed representatives from Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Ngāti Tamaoho, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Tainui (Kīngitanga representative), Māori Football Aotearoa and the OFC on Friday, December 3.

Te Kahu o Kiwa will house OFC’s New Zealand staff and serve as a base for visiting personnel and teams from the confederation’s 11 Member Associations and two Associate Members.

In addition to the administration space, it will feature two artificial pitches and dressing rooms suitable for hosting elite matches.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said the complex will play a crucial part in the confederation’s goal of seeing two Oceania nations competing at the FIFA World Cup 2026 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2027.

“Receiving the resource consents and watching this project come to life has been one of my highlights at OFC,” Castillo said.

“We’ve been based in Penrose for many years and to finally complete this project is a relief.

“It’s going to be a refreshing change for us all and from an organisational standpoint Te Kahu o Kiwa will house many opportunities to develop players, coaches, officials and administrations across the region.”

As the major contributor to the project, FIFA said it is pleased to see the completion of an attractive, modern and welcoming Home of Football for the OFC and its Member Associations.

Credit: Shane Wenzlick – Phototek.
Credit: Shane Wenzlick – Phototek.
Credit: Shane Wenzlick – Phototek.

As the world governing body of football, FIFA is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring that football is developed everywhere, and for all, across all corners of the globe.

Sanjeevan Balasingam, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations Asia and Oceania, spoke about the importance of the project.

“We give credence to the value added of the OFC, who have achieved this key milestone, for its staff and the region,” Balasingam said.

“What makes this project special is the design of the building and its spaces, where people can work, meet and talk, all for the betterment of football.

“The facility underlines one of OFC’s key objectives of being a modern and progressive organisation, firmly focused on the future.”

UEFA Assist, a development arm of UEFA in place to support other Confederations and their members outside Europe, played a key role by providing a significant amount of the funding needed for the Home of Football.

Eva Pasquier, Head of International Relations at UEFA, said they were pleased to be involved.

“We are truly delighted to have supported the OFC Home of Football project over the last few years and look forward to visiting the new premises when travel restrictions are lifted,” Pasquier said.

“The Oceania Member Associations now have a new home where they can meet, discuss and further develop football across the entire region, and this would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the entire OFC team.

“We congratulate them on this fantastic achievement.”

The name Te Kahu o Kiwa is derived from two separate meanings.

Te Kahu is short for kākahu and refers to the cloak/the cloth with the intent to ‘keep safe/kia haumaru’ under the principles of manaakitanga/care and aroha/compassion, which are universal principles for Māori and whanaunga rangatira o te Moananui ā Kiwa/esteemed relations of the Pacific.

Kiwa is an ancient ancestor for Māori and Te Moananui ā Kiwa/The Great Ocean of Kiwa/Pacific Ocean and provides the hononga/connection to those nations of the Pacific.

The former home of OFC at Mt Smart Stadium meanwhile will be repurposed as a high-performance academy for the region.

The completion of the project will be marked with a formal inauguration by the end of June 2022 if travel restrictions allow for the attendance of FIFA, UEFA and OFC Member Associations.