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Te Manawataki o Te Papa banner

Te Manawataki o Te Papa

Civic Precinct – the heartbeat of Te Papa

Exciting plans are underway to redevelop the civic precinct in the heart of our city.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa: Initial concept design

To be called Te Manawataki o Te Papa, the heartbeat of Te Papa, the vibrant new space will include facilities such as a library and community hub, museum, a civic whare (public meeting house), and an exhibition gallery.

Initial concept design video

The heart of the city is transforming into a vibrant community space, following extensive community engagement in June 2022. Over the coming years, we  are  committed to developing the civic precinct that will breathe new life into what will become a key cultural, heritage and economic driver for the region.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa, the heartbeat of Te Papa, will feature a library and community hub, civic whare (public meeting house), museum, and an exhibition gallery. The iconic Baycourt Community and Art Centre and Tauranga Art Gallery are also part of the redevelopment programme, along with the landscaping of public spaces in the area.

Designing a place for people

The civic precinct will be an inclusive space for our entire community and will create a legacy for future generations, not only for the community space it will provide, but also the footprint it will leave. We have committed to putting sustainability at the forefront of design, targeting a 6 Green Star rating which reflects world leadership in sustainability. To achieve that aspiration, a mass timber hybrid structure has been adopted to minimise the buildings’ carbon impact and help create a better environment for our future.

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.

Far reaching benefits

In July 2023, the Te Manawataki o Te Papa business case was presented to Council which illustrates a city that is thriving, beating and vibrant that celebrates our diverse culture and heritage, and welcome people from near and far.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa will foster widespread benefits reaching out to the region and offering a city centre that celebrates and reflects the unique cultural heritage of Tauranga.

Projections indicate that as early as 2035, our new civic precinct could see triple the number of people visiting our city centre, with visits to the new civic precinct averaging 5,500 people a day.

Economists have also predicted that over the lifetime of the development, the civic precinct will significantly contribute to city centre GDP and deliver wider economic benefits, generating up to more than $1 billion in estimated quantified benefits over the next 60 years.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa could also see thousands more people moving into homes built in and around the city centre, and hundreds more businesses opening in the central and inner area of the city, adding to the vibrancy of the city centre.

For more details on the benefits of Te Manawataki o Te Papa, read the Business Case.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa Business Case - 25 July 2023 (5.34mb pdf)

Planning for the new civic precinct

Te Manawataki o Te Papa Charitable Trust is the Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) that will co-own the land beneath the civic precinct.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa Charitable Trust

In December 2022 Council 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. Te Manawataki o Te Papa Limited was registered and began operations in February 2023. It draws upon a wide range of industry and commercial expertise and provides a structure that gives everyone confidence that the project will be delivered effectively. 

Te Manawataki o Te Papa CCO

Te Manawataki o Te Papa forms part of our wider vision for the city centre as outlined in the City Centre Action and Investment Plan below.

City Centre Action and Investment Plan (11.4mb pdf)

We asked the community for feedback about our proposed plans for Te Manawataki o Te Papa in early 2022. You can read more about this in the Long-term Plan Amendment Consultation document under our Resources section on this page.

In 2021, a refresh of the 2018 Civic Precinct Masterplan was formally adopted by the Commission. The refresh was prepared by Willis Bond and Council in collaboration with mana whenua, including representatives from Ngai Tamarāwaho, Ngāti Tapu and Te Materāwaho, as represented by the Otamataha Trust. Read the 2021 presentation by Willis Bond in the Resources section on this page.

A Library and Community Hub Strategic Case and Analysis was undertaken as part of the adoption of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan. An updated business case is in development. To read the Library and Community Hub Strategic Case and Analysis, check out the Resources section on this page

More information

In July 2023 the investment in this programme of work was estimated at $306.3 million.  Rates-funded debt for the development is capped at $151.5 million, with the balance for the programme of works subject to funding from alternative sources.

Securing investment from alternative sources requires a strategic approach involving various funding opportunities both locally and nationwide, including discussions with external partners such as central Government. Council is also considering how to leverage our assets to help fund the development, such as the potential sale of some of council’s non-core assets and funding from airport activity.

To date we have received two significant grants:

  • In December 2022 a council application for $12.1 million in Better Off funding from Central Government was approved, which will go directly towards our new civic precinct.
  • In July 2023 TECT Community Trust confirmed its biggest ever funding investment in a single project, approving a grant of $21 million for Te Manawataki o Te Papa.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa logo

Translated literally, Te Manawataki o Te Papa means ‘the heartbeat of Te Papa’ – intended to reflect the civic precinct’s location in the heart of Tauranga, and how the site’s history and future can be symbolised by a heartbeat or active pulse for the city.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa fittingly describes what the future civic precinct will mean for communities within the city and wider area in years to come. It also appropriately reflects the history of the site, with the area on and around the civic precinct known as Te Papa by both Māori and early settlers.

In the 1800s the area was a hive of activity, attracting people for trade, commerce, education, learning, hospitality, and entertainment. This central hub of activity eventually grew into what we know as Tauranga today.

The tohu (logo) for Te Manawataki o Te Papa was developed by local artist and designer Quinton Bidois. The artistic design represents the strength, power and mana in the movement of the tides, as well as the merging of people into the centre of the city, reflected as a treasure in the form of a pāua inlay.

The words alongside the tohu translate to mean: ‘The heartbeat of Te Papa - the deep springs, the richness of the land, the landing of many canoes, the home of the people.’

In this video below, Josh Te Kani, our Pou Ahurea - Principle Cultural Advisor, and all-round talented orator, explains a bit more about the history and meaning behind the name.

Tauranga City Council entered into a 12-year partnering agreement in 2018 with property development and investment company Willis Bond, to design and develop the buildings and grounds for Te Manawaki o Te Papa. Supporting the delivery of these developments is construction partner LT McGuinness.


  • Updated designs for civic precinct submitted to Council

    December 2022
  • Council approval to proceed with construction

    July 2023
  • Construction of Te Manawataki o Te Papa

    2024 - 2028

City Centre projects

We have a number of exciting projects and plans happening right across our city centre that, together, are helping to transform it into a place that we can all be proud of.

Find out more

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