The vision for the heart of Tauranga’s city centre is closer to becoming a reality, with several significant milestones for the city’s future civic precinct – Te Manawataki o Te Papa – reached today.
At today’s Council meeting, Tauranga City’s Commission approved moving ahead with the next stage of design for the development; and to establish a new council-controlled organisation (CCO) that will govern the delivery of the project.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley says today’s decisions should give the community confidence that the heart of the city centre is well on its way to being revitalised.
“We’re really pleased to be able to make these decisions today, so that the community’s long-held vision and aspirations for the city centre can be realised,” says Anne.
“Featuring a progressive new library and community hub with a research and archives facility, cafe, children’s section and community meeting rooms; a new civic whare (public meeting space); and a museum and exhibition space that will offer direct access to the city’s taonga and heritage collection – there will be something for visitors from near and far in our new civic precinct.”
Anne says the project team should be commended for the significant amount of progress made in a short space of time, as well as their commitment to incorporating feedback from the community – such as a desire for improved sustainability and more green space – into the updated designs.
“We have all been reflecting on feedback received from the community as well as the legacy this precinct will create for future generations – not only in terms of the community space this will provide, but also the footprint we will leave.
“As such, we’ve committed to putting sustainability at the forefront of design, targeting a 6 Green Star rating, a rating reflecting world leadership in sustainability. To achieve that aspiration, we have adopted a mass timber hybrid structure, which will minimise the buildings’ carbon impact and help create a better environment for our future.”
At today’s meeting, council’s development partners, Willis Bond, presented a preliminary design and cost report, noting that both will be further refined through the design process. Detailed designs and costing will be brought back to Council in 2023 before construction is given the final go-ahead.
Willis Bond Director Wayne Silver says the key changes reflect the transition to a mass timber hybrid building structure and investment associated with the public open space and accessibility.
Wayne says a mātauranga Māori design influence is shining through in the structures, with the project team working closely with mana whenua to develop a series of cultural design outcomes, which will feature across the civic precinct and help tell the story of the city’s rich past to all those who visit.
Otamataha Trust Chair Puhirake Ihaka says the latest designs represent the area’s cultural significance to mana whenua, with ahikāroa (unbroken occupation) dating back to the 14th century up until land confiscation from the late-1800s to mid-1900s.
“We have been pleased to work in partnership with Council and share our cultural background with the project team to illustrate the elements for specific design features and ensure mana whenua design principles are embedded in the final product,” says Puhirake.
“I wish to acknowledge the diligence of our team and the input and advice provided by our kaumātua, particularly the late Peri Kohu.”
The Commission reconfirmed that rates-funded debt for the development would not exceed the $151.5 million set in June 2022, and that any balance for the programme of works would be subject to funding from alternative sources.
City Development and Partnerships General Manager Gareth Wallis says securing this investment will require smart and strategic thinking.
“At a high-level, this involves talking with a variety of external partners, including central Government, to see how we can work together on aligned goals; exploring various external funding opportunities, locally and nationwide; and considering the potential sale of some of council’s non-core assets,” he says.
“This work is already substantially underway, and it was pleasing to receive notification last week that our application for $12.1 million in Better Off funding from central Government has been approved. This will go directly towards Te Manawataki o Te Papa.”
At today’s Council meeting, the Commission also approved the proposed establishment of a new CCO that will govern and lead the delivery of Te Manawataki o Te Papa on the ground.
Commissioner Stephen Selwood says the new CCO will draw upon a wide range of industry and commercial expertise, improve cost efficiencies and provide a structure that gives everyone confidence that the project will be delivered effectively.
“Our community has been waiting for such a long time for the city’s heart to be restored and we are confident that this new governance structure will set this project up for success,” says Stephen.
It is anticipated that the new CCO will be formally established by mid-2023. The governance structure is expected to include a Board and at least one employee experienced in delivering similar large-scale projects.
Work to develop Te Manawataki o Te Papa is expected to commence on-site in the second half of next year. The full programme of work will be completed in stages and is currently scheduled to be completed in 2027.