Government funding a huge boost for Rotorua

Aerial concept shot of the Rotorua Lakefront. Supplied Image.

Hundreds of jobs could be created in Rotorua, and millions of dollars of private investment sparked, following a multi-million dollar cash injection from the Government.

The Government announced the city will receive $27.4 million from the Provincial Growth Fund. It has set aside:

· $19.9m for the lakefront to match the $20m allocated by Council; and

· Up to $7.5m to go towards the Whakarewarewa Forest with the same amount confirmed from Council

Mayor Steve Chadwick says these projects, signalled in the Council’s 2018 – 2028 Long-Term Plan, will enhance what the district already has and provides the community with the infrastructure it deserves.

“Government’s support significantly helps Council and iwi to progress forward much faster, and confirms the robust business cases for the two projects.

“Mā te mahi tahi, ka tutuki – Working together, we will succeed and this philosophy supports Council’s vision, Tatau Tatau – We together.

“With support from mana whenua, we have seized the opportunity to apply for Provincial Growth Funding by selecting projects that are ready to be worked on and match the pūtea (funding) criteria,” says Steve.

Council is currently seeking expressions of interest from companies to carry out the work, which is expected to start by the beginning of next year.

“These projects will not only benefit the tourism industry and our economy, but make Rotorua a more attractive place to live for our people and open the door to private investment,” says Steve.  

“Without strong partnerships with Government and mana whenua, the projects wouldn’t be possible.”

Lakefront development could create almost 500 jobs

The $19.9m grant for the Rotorua Lakefront will help fund several developments including a play area, new boardwalk, car parking, a new wharewaka, concrete and grass terraces and a café and restaurant space.

The economic impact analysis found the lakefront development could create more than 470 jobs, with the potential to attract $305.7m of private investment, increase tourism expenditure by $363 million and lift GDP by $214 million.

Mayor Chadwick acknowledges the expertise of two Te Arawa entities which have helped develop the plan.

Pukeroa Ōruawhata Trust chair, Malcolm Short, welcomes the government funding and acknowledges the collaborative approach to the redevelopment plan.

“We have the opportunity to create a world-class space, which provides an opportunity for us to showcase the history and stories of Ngāti Whakaue, as well as some of the history of Te Arawa which is unique to Rotorua. These developments also potentially provide training opportunities including for rangatahi Māori (Māori youth).”

Te Arawa Lakes Trust Chairman, Sir Toby Curtis, says the partnership approach is future-thinking and means that both the community and landscape will prosper.

“We have been working closely with Council to ensure any mahi (work) that’s carried out upholds the mauri (life force) of the environment, including the lake. We are pleased the Government has set aside pūtea that will enhance Rotorua for our community and our tamariki mokopuna (future generations).”

Whakarewarewa Forest to become more accessible

The redevelopment of Tokorangi Forest (Redwoods side of Whakarewarewa Forest) will mean better accessibility for a variety of users and improvements to public spaces including:

· Long Mile Road

· Visitor Centre

· Car parking; and

· A new entrance and forest hub

Mayor Chadwick says CNI, Te Komiti Nui o Ngāti Whakaue and Tūhourangi have shaped the proposed plan for the forest and captured the essence of ‘the Rotorua Way’ – with economic impact analysis suggesting the project could create more than 130 jobs and potentially attract $68 million of private investment.

CNI chairman, Bronco Carson, is excited the redevelopment of the forest will create new opportunity for jobs, particularly for Māori youth, which is vital for Rotorua.

“To have the ability to offer new employment options and training opportunities to locals, including to rangatahi Māori, is imperative. Improvements to the forest provide an endless number of possibilities and the ability to offer locals, like our rangatahi, opportunities on our own front door step.”

Te Komiti Nui o Ngāti Whakaue chair, Pauline Tangohau, says it is exciting to see iwi working together with Council to support the aspirations of mana whenua.

“This is about developing and enhancing Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa for our people, communities, long term users and future visitors to Rotorua. Collaboration weaves the vision of two worlds and enables visitors and locals who use this space to connect to the history of the area.”

Tūhourangi Tribal Authority chairman, Alan Skipwith, welcomes the Government funding, saying it shows confidence in the district’s growth.

“Rotorua is growing and it’s exciting to know the Government supports our district’s ambition to redevelop the forest and create new possibilities for the community.”

FAQs: Lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest development

What does this funding announcement mean?

The announcement of this funding is hugely significant and will allow these projects to proceed much sooner, rather than later. Council’s share of funding for the projects was approved as part of the Long-Term Plan process, however this was always dependent on funding from external partners.

These projects, while hugely significant for both Rotorua and New Zealand, were too much for the ratepayers to fund on their own and we are grateful to the Government for partnering with us to achieve them.

How much Government funding has been announced?

The Government has announced it will give $19.9 million for the lakefront development and $7.5 million for the Whakarewarewa Forest project.

When will work on the two projects start?

The design work undertaken during development of the business case phase means we can start almost immediately. We’ve already sought expressions of interests from companies wanting to tender for these projects.

We hope to complete the tender process and appoint a contractor in the coming months with physical works able to start by early 2019.

How long will they take to complete?

Both projects are being carried out in stages, with the first stage of the lakefront project expected to be finished in late 2019 and the initial stage of the forest project, which includes Long Mile Rd to be completed by the end of next year. The Forest Hub development is expected to be completed by early 2020.

We hope to have most capital works for both projects completed in three to four years.

What is involved?

The redevelopment of the Rotorua lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest open significant opportunities for the city, as well as benefits for tourism nationally, and will spark millions of dollars of investment and create new jobs.

Several developments are planned for the lakefront, including creating amenities and spaces that celebrate Rotorua’s unique environment and culture.

The ongoing development of Whakarewarewa Forest is about enhancing our lifestyle and creating areas that are sustainable for future generations, as well as making the forest more accessible for a variety of users to enjoy.

How were the projects selected?

The opportunity to kick-start these two projects sooner than anticipated has arisen through the development of Central Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. With support from mana whenua, we have seized the opportunity to apply for the fund by selecting projects that are ready to be worked on and match the pūtea (funding) criteria.

The fund aims to lift productivity potential in the provinces, create jobs and enhance community benefits.

What does the lakefront development specifically include?

The development of Rotorua’s lakefront is split over five stages. Some of the earlier work will include the removal of the vacant Soundshell, and Scout Den, which will proceed alongside stage one of the lakefront development.

The Rotorua lakefront development also involves amalgamating the tourism operators into a purpose-built building, developing a 600m boardwalk over the water, moving visitor parking away from the lake edge, relocating the Wharewaka (Waka House) and creating a community water sports area for waka ama.

The development also includes a new Rotorua-unique play space, and removal of the road from Memorial Drive through to Government Gardens, this will be transformed in to a natural public space with access on to the boardwalk.

For more information see www.rotorualakescouncil.nz/lakefrontdevelopment

What does the forest development specifically include?

Stage one includes the redevelopment of Long Mile Road, including improvements to the entrance from Tarawera Road, specific coach parking, formalising car parking to be 150 in total and the inclusion of a Whakarewarewa Forest loop as part of Te Ara Ahi National Cycleway.

The second stage includes the establishment of a second Forest Hub and public carpark off Tarawera Road, halfway between Long Mile Road and Lake Tikitapu, to provide a third entranceway to the forest. A public carpark to cater for 100 cars, a bike wash station, key infrastructure and public toilets is also planned.

For more information see www.rotorualakescouncil.nz/forestdevelopment

Who is involved?

The projects are a collaborative effort. With Whakarewarewa Forest, we are working closely with the owners, CNI Iwi Holdings and mana whenua Ngāti Whakaue and Tuhourangi, as part of our co-governance arrangement, while at the lakefront we are working with the Lakefront Development Advisory Committee, which also involves iwi representatives.

As we progress, we will be working with wider stakeholders to consider how they would like to be involved and opportunities for them.

What are the roles of the Council and CNI when it comes to the forest?

The Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa Forests are vested in Central North Island Iwi Holdings Ltd, following its 2008 settlement with Government.

The Council is responsible for the management of the Tokorangi forest block under the terms of the Crown Forestry Licence. That licence expires in 2043 when full management will be passed to mana whenua iwi.

The Council is establishing a Co-Governance group for the Whakarewarewa forest to support the development and ongoing activity in the forest. This group will include RLC, CNI, Te Komiti Nui O Ngāti Whakaue, Tuhourangi Tribal Authority and Timberlands.

Haven’t these projects already received funding?

Yes, the projects received more than $811,000 of funding in June to allow Council to complete the designs and final business cases for the two projects.

These business cases were crucial in securing this further PGF funding.

Does the public get the chance to have their say on the projects?

Both projects were part of the Long Term Plan consultation process, which attracted hundreds of submissions.

As work progresses, Council will continue to keep our partners, stakeholders and the wider community informed in a variety of ways including the e-pānui which people can sign up to here.


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