QUARTERLY SITE DEVELOPMENT UPDATE – MARCH
Since the first sods were turned by former Prime Minister John Key in May 2016, the major site developments underway at Te Puia l NZMACI have started to take shape with the first walls erected at the new Wānanga Precinct.
Estimated at $17 million, the site development was also given a major boost by the New Zealand government with $2.457 million from the Tourism Growth Partnership fund - the single biggest grant ever provided under the programme.
Investment includes a new Wānanga Precinct for the national schools of wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving and bronze foundry, and an integrated café and restaurant function centre overlooking Whakarewarewa Valley and the world-famous Pōhutu Geyser. A new taonga (treasure) gallery space will also be built along with a ta moko (Māori tattoo) studio.
Opposite the entrance to Te Puia l NZMACI, a 12-metre-high sculpture that will be positioned at the centre of the new Hemo Gorge roundabout is also underway. Read more about this story here.
The new Wānanga Precinct tells a greater cultural story by bringing the internationally unique NZMACI operations to the forefront of the wider Te Puia experience.
The Wānanga Precinct has been designed to strengthen the work of the national schools and their important cultural contribution and just as importantly, ensure Te Puia's tourism operation adapts to the constantly evolving needs and expectations of visitors, offering an enriched visitor experience.
Te Puia special projects manager, Nick Dallimore says significant progress can now be seen on the Wānanga building site with approximately half of the external precast walls now in place.
“The contractor is busy imbedding the various services into the ground ready for pouring the first part of the floor slab. Once the floor slab has been poured and cured, the support beams holding the large precast walls will come down.
“In the meantime, manuhiri (visitors) have been enjoying the new visitor ramp and tunnel, which opened several weeks ahead of schedule, providing a more direct route to and from the southern carpark.”
Te Puia is working hard to minimise disruption to visitors. The existing Wānanga building is still open to visitors as the new building site is behind the existing school. All visitor activities remain open during the site construction.
The Te Arawa people of Te Whakarewarewa Valley have been hosting visitors to the region for almost 200 years and Te Puia’s new 300-seat wharekai (function centre) incorporating café and restaurant takes the organisation’s commitment to manaakitanga (hosting) to a whole new level.
Perched to overlook the geothermal valley with stunning views of Pōhutu Geyser, bubbling mud pools and native flora, the new café and restaurant will capture the valley’s spectacular backdrop to create a truly remarkable dining experience.
The demolition of the old café was completed in February 2017, with the foundation of the new café and restaurant now underway.
Nick Dallimore says there are significant earth works taking place across the site, with many services including water, sewer, storm water and various network connections needing to be moved or replaced as historic infrastructure is discovered.
“Much of this work is about future proofing the site, ensuring we have good services well into the future.
“The box foundation and steel work has been completed in the ground floor section of the building, with the final foundations for the front dining room and terrace, facing the Valley and Pohutu Geyser, the next to be completed.
“Soon we will see piling beginning for the lower sections of the building and the installation of precast walls.”
A temporary container café has been installed underneath the Whakaruruhau (large sheltered area near the entrance to Te Puia) providing fresh food, coffee, ice-cream and refreshments to visitors. Plenty of tables and chairs are available at the café.
HEMO GORGE SCULPTURE
Visitors travelling to and from Rotorua will soon be welcomed by a 12-metre-high sculpture which will be more than just a piece of art – but a culmination of Māori history and evolving arts and crafts, set to gain international attention.
The sculpture will form the southern gateway to the city, aligning with the cultural concept of a waharoa (gateway), where before entering the area, you acknowledge the cultural significance of the place and its ancestors.
Rotorua Lakes Council are working with preferred contractor, Protech Stainless, who will fabricate the roundabout sculpture.
In partnership with Protech, the computer model for the sculpture has been sent to Canada, where the bending of the long stainless steel tubing will be completed.
These will be shipped to Hamilton where it will be welded together, along with the other elements of the design. Due to the scale of the piece (12m tall), Protech envisage building the sculpture on its side and once completed, transport it as one piece to be craned into position.
The sculpture is expected to be completed for installation later in 2017.
Nick Dallimore says the roundabout will provide manuhiri safe access into Te Puia, as well as a safer journey for those travelling through.
“The roundabout has three connector roads, an additional access way to the Te Puia carpark, as well as three underpasses for pedestrians and cyclists.
“A temporary by-pass has been put in place for the public to use until the new roundabout is open and the by-pass is removed.