Why Rabobank’s head office moved from Wellington to Hamilton


Rabobank New Zealand Managing Director Todd Charteris stands outside the bank's new headquarters in Hamilton.  The skyscraper is the first building to be constructed in the Union Square district.

Christel Yardley / Tips

Rabobank New Zealand Managing Director Todd Charteris stands outside the bank’s new headquarters in Hamilton. The skyscraper is the first building to be constructed in the Union Square district.

When Rabobank decided to move its headquarters from Wellington, a city came naturally.

“For me Hamilton has a really dynamic business attitude and I really like that,” said Todd Charteris, Managing Director of Rabobank New Zealand.

And Rabobank could be the first of a multitude of companies looking to locate in Hamilton.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY / STUFF

Premier Jacinda Ardern reflects on her memories of Hamilton and how the city looks to the river, including the Waikato Regional Theater under construction.

About 80 employees are expected to move into the bank’s new offices on Thursday. The head office – named Rabobank Center – occupies two floors of the new Union Square building on the corner of Anglesea St and Hood St.

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Charteris said the opening of Rabobank’s new headquarters is a statement about the bank’s identity. Rabobank is the only bank specializing in food and agri-food in the country.

“Waikato stands out as a vibrant food and agricultural region, and it is also close to other food producing regions,” he said.

The Down to Earth wall was commissioned for the Rabobank Center and features everyday objects from rural New Zealand.

Christel Yardley / Tips

The Down to Earth wall was commissioned for the Rabobank Center and features everyday objects from rural New Zealand.

The bank previously had around 30 employees based in Hamilton. The workforce at its head office should eventually expand to 120.

Rabobank will also maintain a presence in Wellington.

“You look around Wellington, there are no farmers there, [and] really no food companies. He did his job well, we still have a strong connection there, obviously, with industry and government. But we just felt we were much better served here for really moving our business forward. “

The Rabobank Center is a bespoke office space, with plenty of artwork and decals referencing the bank’s rural connections.

Todd Charteris uses a private phone booth inside the Rabobank Center.

Christel Yardley / Tips

Todd Charteris uses a private phone booth inside the Rabobank Center.

One room, named The Down to Earth Wall, features everyday agricultural items arranged in a mosaic-inspired pattern. The artwork is located in front of a large table where staff and visitors can socialize over a hot drink.

“When we go out to see clients, our bankers… do a lot of business around their kitchen tables because we go to where our clients are. What we have tried to create here is our own kitchen table. Customers can come and help themselves to a coffee, it is as much their space as ours.

“They will also be surrounded by works of art that they can recognize and resonate with.”

The office also has wool rugs from three Rabobank clients.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the city attracts interest from a wide range of businesses because of its reputation as a good place to do business.

Staff lockers adorned with a herd of cows.  Tailored features inside the Rabobank Center refer to the bank's focus on the food and agribusiness sectors.

Christel Yardley / Tips

Staff lockers adorned with a herd of cows. Tailored features inside the Rabobank Center refer to the bank’s focus on the food and agribusiness sectors.

“I can’t go into specifics, but we’re talking to companies that come from major centers and are looking to locate in Hamilton,” Southgate said.

“Our message to businesses… is that if you are considering moving to a modern, prosperous city, come talk to us and we’ll see what we can do. “

On Tuesday, the city held a groundbreaking ceremony for the soon-to-be-built Waikato Regional Theater. Among the guests was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Southgate said the Riverside Theater is another example of the rejuvenation of the city center.

“We are going to see a whole stretch of at least 2 km of our central river with new businesses and dynamic activities.”

The Dawn Wall artwork is located behind the reception of the Rabobank Center.  Many of the bank's customers are the first to see dawn each morning, Charteris says.

Christel Yardley / Tips

The Dawn Wall artwork is located behind the reception of the Rabobank Center. Many of the bank’s customers are the first to see dawn each morning, Charteris says.

Ardern, who was born in Hamilton and studied at the University of Waikato, has noticed a “tremendous amount” of development and beautification in the downtown area. Recent developments show a deliberate intention to face the Waikato River.

“The city has changed a lot over the years, and now you can almost see these neighborhoods developing, and I think that lends itself to a real destination.”

Just before Christmas last year, Charteris visited the Union Square site with Foster Construction Group Managing Director Leonard Gardner. By this time, about one floor of the five-story building had been completed.

“The fact that they completed the building nine months later is quite impressive. I think that sums up the Waikato, ”Charteris said.

“This is where things are done. “


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