QUARTERLY SITE DEVELOPMENT UPDATE - JUNE
Despite winter and the unpredictable weather conditions, Te Puia special projects manager Nick Dallimore says progress on Te Puia l New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute’s significant site developments are continuing at an excellent pace.
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.
Slightly ahead of schedule, nearly all of the precast concrete walls are now in place.
“This is a really exciting stage as we can now visualise the different spaces for the schools,” says Nick.
“As the roof goes on, we’ll see less obvious change in the months to come; however, being weather tight, we’ll be able to carry on unimpeded through the rest of the year.”
Stage one of the new Wānanga is due to be completed mid-December 2017 when all existing Wānanga activities will shift into the new building.
“Work will then begin on stage two, the renovation of the current carving building into the new gallery space, ta moko studio and office area.”
The Wānanga Precinct project is due for completion in April 2018, which will also include extending the main car park.
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 a 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, followed by geotechnical testing to ensure the building’s foundations have bearing capacity.
Completed at the start of June, the building has almost taken shape overnight, says Nick.
“The Wharekai building is mostly made up of pre-cast concrete walls, which have been finished with a timber pattern imprinted on its external face. Gardens will be planted around the base with plants trained to grow up and along the walls.”
The Wharekai project is due for completion in July 2018
A temporary container café has been installed underneath the Whakaruruhau (large sheltered area near the entrance of Te Puia) providing fresh food, coffee, ice-cream and refreshments. Plenty of tables and chairs are available at the café.
The new Kiwi House will host two separable enclosures, providing more space to house kiwi, as well as interpretation areas, feeding and health check viewing, and of course state-of-the-art enclosures featuring specialty lighting, watering systems, air ventilation and viewing windows.
The design for the new Kiwi House is well underway.
“The building’s location, nestled into the slope, creates a natural ‘amphitheatre’ and lends itself to the effect of entering down into a kiwi’s burrow, providing manuhiri with a significantly enhanced experience,” says Nick.
The construction of the new Kiwi House is expected to have little disruption on manuhiri visiting Te Puia and our precious kiwi birds, Marama and Sketch. The existing Kiwi House is still open to visitors as the new building site is developed.