Latest artist impression of Te Manawataki o Te Papa.
Long-held plans for the transformation of Tauranga’s civic precinct and city centre are poised to progress, with key decisions about the ‘once-in-a-generation’ project expected to be made at a Tauranga City Council meeting on Monday (24 July).
The new civic precinct, to be called Te Manawataki o Te Papa (the heartbeat of Te Papa), is set to include a library and community hub, civic whare (public meeting house), exhibition gallery and museum. The programme of work also includes upgrades to Baycourt and Tauranga Art Gallery, along with the landscaping of public spaces in the area.
The updated designs and costs, business case and proposed financial strategy that would see Te Manawataki o Te Papa brought to life will be presented to the Commissioners on Monday, along with a number of other related agenda items.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the challenge set by the Commissioners when the civic precinct project was approved during last year’s 2021-31 Long-term Plan Amendment process was to ensure that the benefits, investment and financial strategy surrounding the development stacked-up, before the final green light could be given.
“This will be the most significant investment in community facilities our city may ever see and we know many people desperately want it go ahead. However, we need to be confident it will deliver the benefits our city needs, at an affordable cost, while keeping the community’s rates-funded debt to a maximum of $151.5 million,” says Anne.
“Since we rebooted the civic precinct project in 2021, a number of ongoing national and global challenges have presented themselves, such as Covid-19, escalating construction costs, and a rise in inflation and interest rates.
“Given these challenges, we are really pleased to see that our development partners Willis Bond remain confident they can deliver the civic precinct programme of work within the overall approved budget of $306.3 million.
“We also need to make sure a sound financial strategy exists so we can be confident that all of the funding required is in place.”
Anne says TECT’s recent approval of a $21 million grant towards Te Manawataki o Te Papa – the Trust’s largest-ever contribution to a single project – represents a huge step towards achieving the project’s wider investment targets.
“This TECT contribution, along with the $12.1 million in central Government Better-Off funding we received last year, puts us in a good position to reach our goals. Grants such as this form part of a wider financial strategy, which will leave no stone unturned in securing financing options.”
Anne says the Commission is aware the cost of the project is particularly important at a time when the cost of living is at the forefront of people’s minds, which is why the benefits identified in the business case are so important.
The Te Manawataki o Te Papa business case, to be formally presented to Council on Monday, outlines the wider social, economic and cultural benefits the project will bring. The business case indicates that those benefits reinforce the validity of the project and therefore recommends proceeding with it.
“The business case paints a picture of a thriving, beating and vibrant city heart that celebrates our heritage and culture, and brings people together from near and far.
“One of the highlights that stands out for me is the prediction that in just over 10 years, there could be 5,500 people visiting Te Manawataki o Te Papa, and therefore the city centre, per day.”
Anne acknowledges all of the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes by staff, mana whenua, and Council’s development and construction partners to progress this transformational project.
“There is a lot for the Commission to consider and on Monday we will be in a position to decide whether there is sufficient confidence and certainty in this project to give it the final green light.”
If given the go-ahead, construction of the new civic precinct will kick off in earnest early next year, with the library and community hub the first building set to be developed. All going to plan, the full programme of work is expected to be completed by the end of 2028.
The full agenda and items can be read on the Council website
Latest artist impression of library and community hub.