Project managers appointed for Museum and SHMPAC

Friday 2, November 2018 | News | ,

Project managers appointed for Rotorua Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre

With the construction phase due to get underway next year for both Rotorua Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, project managers have now been appointed for the seismic strengthening and redevelopment of these key community facilities.

Following a competitive detailed tender process, Rotorua Lakes Council has appointed WSP Opus to manage the Rotorua Museum project and AECOM to manage the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre project.

“These projects are both quite complex,” said Stewart Brown, Rotorua Lakes Council’s Manager Arts & Culture. “They both involve seismic strengthening, they are both Category 1 heritage buildings and they are both situated in a geothermal area with the added challenges that brings,” he said.

For that reason, the projects need dedicated, experienced project managers to ensure the quality, timeframes and budgets are actively overseen every step of the way. To avoid conflicting time pressures, the team decided it was important to have separate project managers for these two major developments.


Mr Brown said the project team was impressed with WSP Opus’s local team, and the wealth of additional expertise from around New Zealand and internationally, that could be drawn on if required. WSP Opus have had an office in Rotorua for around 70 years and their extensive history working with Council, and long and trusted relationships with local contractors, will ensure seamless integration into the project. They also know the challenges of working in Rotorua’s geothermal landscape.

“It means they will be right here – in the project and on site. With such a complex development quick responses will be a really important factor to keep the project on track,” said Mr Brown.

“As a local team, we have skin in the game,” said Project Director Fred Shilton. “We are local ratepayers who love the Museum and want to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and love it too. This is a special project and it is a privilege for us to be involved. We will be bringing wide-ranging expertise, with our extensive and agile resource pool, to ensure that this project is effectively and efficiently managed right through to its’ conclusion,” he said.


For the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, Auckland-based AECOM have been providing interim project management services for the last few months. Based on their excellent performance to date, and the wealth of experience they bring to the project, they were the obvious choice to project manage the seismic strengthening and redevelopment of this significant community venue.

“AECOM have already established some excellent systems and processes for managing the Sir Howard Morrison Centre project,” said Mr Brown. “The depth of their team, experience working with Councils, combined project management experience and already established relationships will ensure the project continues to progress efficiently.”

“We have been supporting council during the set-up phase of this iconic project and are thrilled to be continuing with this strong partnership,” said AECOM Technical Director, Kerry Newell.

“Our team will provide the required leadership and skills to navigate this complex project to a successful completion. We recognise how important the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre is for Rotorua. It will be an important focal point for the community, providing work opportunities and valuable facilities. We have a long track record of supporting the development of similar recreational community projects,” he said.

Design concept

With the design phase well underway for both projects, one of the first key tasks of the project managers will be the procurement of contractors in preparation for construction to start in 2019.

During the recent long term planning round, Rotorua Lakes Council agreed to commit $15 million towards the seismic strengthening of Rotorua Museum and $4.5million towards the seismic strengthening of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. The balance of funds for both projects is to be sourced externally.

Rotorua Museum FAQs

WSP Opus

WSP Opus is a global infrastructure and management consultancy with 44,000 staff and a network of more than 500 offices in 40 countries around the world.

With a 70-year presence in Rotorua, and almost 150 years working on major projects around New Zealand, WSP Opus has unrivalled local knowledge. Their experience working on Rotorua Professional Services contracts and other local projects for many years means they bring first-hand knowledge and experience of Rotorua’s infrastructure and unique landscape.

In addition to the ‘best for project’ core team, hand-picked for the Museum project, WSP Opus provides access to a range of complementary advisors including heritage, cultural, archaeological, structural and seismic specialists.

Their focus is to create sustainable communities, facilities and environments through world leading social and fixed infrastructure. Their guiding purpose is ‘creating what matters for future generations’.

What has happened since Rotorua Museum closed

  • 18 November 2016: Rotorua Museum closed following a rapid seismic risk assessment which determined the building was earthquake prone
  • December 2016 – August 2017: Research, destructive testing and analysis to determine in detail the condition of the building and the ground on which it sits
  • August 2017 – December 2017: Four structural strengthening options were evaluated, and the preferred option selected
  • December 2017: Detailed seismic assessment was completed which rated the building at 19% of new building standard. Buildings below 34% are considered earthquake prone, while those under 67% are considered earthquake risk
  • December 2017 – February 2018: Engineers GDC developed the structural concept design for strengthening the building, for review by Rotorua Lakes Council and Heritage New Zealand
  • February 2018 – December 2018: Structural design developed into detailed drawings and specifications with estimated costs
  • May 2018: Rotorua Lakes Council long term plan signed off following community consultation. Council approved $15 million towards strengthening the Rotorua Museum building with the balance required to be sourced externally

Next steps for the Rotorua Museum project

  • Now to December 2018: Developed design phase
  • December 2018 – July 2019: Detailed design phase
  • July 2019: Contractor procurement and construction commencement
  • July 2019 – 2020: Construction
  • 2021: Exhibition installation prior to Museum reopening

Museum project funding status

Rotorua Lakes Council has agreed to contribute $15 million towards earthquake strengthening of the Bath House building as part of its Long Term Plan approved in May this year.

Detailed cost estimates, based on the latest structural and architectural plans, are currently being developed by the project’s quantity surveyor and are expected by the end of the year.

An expression of interest has been submitted to the Regional Provincial Growth fund and once the outcome is known a funding strategy will be developed to raise the remaining required funds.

With support from Rotorua Lakes Council, Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust, chaired by Lyall Thurston QSO JP, will lead fundraising for the project. The Trust also led the successful fundraising programme for the extensions to the Bath House building from 2006 to 2011.

Brief history of the Bath House building

1908: Rotorua Bath House opened by Admiral Sperry of the American Fleet

1911-12: South wing addition completed

1947: Bath House transferred to the Health Department

1963: Bath House transferred to Rotorua District Council along with a grant of $64,000

1965: Tudor Towers restaurant, and later nightclub, took up lease of upstairs area

1969: City of Rotorua Museum opened in South Wing

1977: Rotorua City Art Gallery opened in North Wing

1988: Art Gallery and Museum amalgamated

1990: Tudor Towers restaurant and nightclub lease expired

2006: North Wing viewing platform reinstated – Stage I of Centennial project

2008: North Wing gallery extensions completed – Stage II of Centennial project

2011: South Wing gallery extensions completed – Stage III of Centennial project

16 November 2016: Rotorua Museum closed for earthquake strengthening on the Bath House building

Sir Howard Morrison Centre FAQs


Based in Hamilton and Tauranga, with offices across New Zealand and around the world, AECOM is a leading provider of professional services for government and commercial clients. They offer integrated ‘whole solution’ services to ensure the best outcomes for that specific project.

With 85,000 employees around the world, AECOM have access to a huge range of technologies, people and best practises both within New Zealand and internationally. They provide a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.

AECOM New Zealand has over 600 professionals in five main offices covering all professional management, engineering, design and property consultancy disciplines throughout the country.

What has happened since the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre closed

  • 3 November 2017: The Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre closed for earthquake strengthening
  • November 2017: Business plan completed outlining options for redeveloping the centre
  • January – July 2018: Architectural design competition resulted in Shand Shelton being appointed to lead the redesign of the building for performing arts
  • April 2018: Detailed seismic assessment rated the building at 25% of new building standard. Buildings below 34% are considered earthquake prone, while those under 67% are considered earthquake risk
  • August 2018: Resource consent approved based on concept designs
  • August – October 2018: Preliminary designs completed

Next steps for the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre project

  • Now to April 2019: Complete design phase and continue to source external funding
  • April 2019: Contractor procurement and commencement of construction phase
  • April 2019 – April 2020: Construction
  • April – June 2020: Fit out prior to reopening

Funding status

In addition to the $4.5million commitment from Rotorua Lakes Council a further $5.25million has been committed by external funders. $3million has been committed by Sir Owen Glenn, $1.5million has been committed by the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and $750,000 has been committed by NZCT. Funding approaches have been made to a number of other trusts but at this stage it is too early to determine the likely outcome of these applications.

Brief history of the building

In 1940 the building opened as the new Municipal Building and Theatre/Town Hall, originally designed in Spanish Mission Revival style. It is a Heritage New Zealand Category 1 building and is regarded as a fine example of late inter-war, purpose-built, civic building.

Originally the building housed the Council offices, Mayoral Chamber and library and the current foyer was originally an external courtyard with a fountain at its centre.

In the early 1990s the building underwent significant refurbishment and its core use changed to a Convention Centre for business events and meetings. It was at this stage the curved Banquet Room was added and the external courtyard was closed in to create a large internal foyer.

In 2014 the building was renamed the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, to reflect a change in direction from business convention centre to a more focused performing arts space for the community. On 3 November 2017 the building closed following a seismic assessment that identified it as earthquake prone.