Additional Government funding a welcome boost for key Council projects

Saturday 27, June 2020 | News,Project Team |

Additional funding towards re-opening of Rotorua’s museum and construction of a new forest visitor centre is a welcome boost as progress on these key projects continues, Mayor Steve Chadwick says.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has today [Saturday 27 June] announced an additional $2 million for the museum to enable the replacement, rather than repair, of the roof, and $90,000 towards construction of a new visitor centre in the Tokorangi Forest.

While in Rotorua today Mr Peters, who was accompanied by Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau, visited the museum and the forest, as well as checking out progress on the lakefront redevelopment.

“These are important projects for Rotorua and its economic future,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“Both the museum and the forest are much loved community assets that also play a big part in our proposition as a tourist destination.

“We want to make sure we have outstanding facilities that contribute to our ongoing relevance as a place where people want to live, work, do business and visit,” the Mayor says.

“It’s great to the have the continued support of Central Government and ongoing confidence in the direction we have set and the outcomes we are trying to achieve here in Rotorua.”

As part of the Rotorua Lakes Council ‘s Vision 2030 – The Rotorua Way, and thanks to funding from Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Council is managing an investment of over $53m to strengthen and redevelop Rotorua Museum. Also thanks to PGF funding, Council has been managing an investment of $14.5 million to enhance the forest amenity and improve the experience for all.

The additional funding for the museum recognises the significance of the Category 1 Bath House building, in which Rotorua Museum is housed, to not just our community, but to New Zealand, Mayor Chadwick says.

All investigative and deconstruction works are now complete and pre-construction services are nearing completion on the complex museum project which will involve seven construction stages.

The new visitor centre in Tokorangi Forest (in the area known locally as The Redwoods), will be one of the final pieces of the forest developments which have included a new entry hub near Tikitapu.

Recent data shows weekend activity in the forest – including walkers, runners and mountain bikers – was up by 65 per cent on the same period last year. Weekend activity during January and February, so pre-COVID, was up 19 per cent on last year.

“That just highlights what an extremely valuable asset the forest is both as a community recreational area and as a contributor to domestic tourism,” the mayor says.

Museum project

  • This project will create hundreds of new local jobs throughout the construction phase, as well as ongoing jobs when the Museum is re-opened. As a result of the Museum redevelopment, an estimated $96million will be injected into the economy.
  • Stages 1 to 3, being the South Wing and Foundation work, are ready to go, pending completion of a structural peer review, and stage 4, the last stage of the foundations, is very close.
  • The project team is working alongside Heritage New Zealand, with some of the best architects, engineers and construction teams in New Zealand, to make sure we get it right.
  • Once complete, internal layout changes will significantly improve the visitor experience and accessibility, but otherwise the building will look almost exactly as it currently does, retaining all the heritage features and charm that we know and love.

Forest developments

  • The iconic Whakarewarewa and Tokorangi Forests are of significance to iwi (Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao and Ngāti Whakaue respectively) and are a popular playground for local and visiting mountain bikers, runners and walkers.
  • The developments aim to create significant opportunities for Rotorua and tourism benefits and aim to spark commercial investment and create new jobs in the area.
  • Work to date has included roading, parking and stormwater improvements to Long Mile Road, as well as a new dedicated equestrian and bus parking zone. A new forest hub off Tarawera Road is nearing completion and includes a parking area for up to 400 vehicles, and a toilet and shower block. A new 35km cycle loop around the forest is also nearing completion and a loop around the city that will connect to the forest is in the planning stages.
  • The project team is working with mana whenua to tell the story of the forest through signboards and other artworks.