Tauranga’s civic precinct closer to reality

An artist’s impression of the civic whare, exhibition centre and museum. Image: Tauranga City Council.

Tauranga's new civic precinct, Te Manawataki o Te Papa (the heartbeat of Te Papa), is being celebrated by Anne Tolley as "a place where we can reflect Tauranga’s history, celebrate that history and create more history.”

The Tauranga City Council commission chair was speaking ahead the council making key decisions about it on Monday.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa, is set to include a library and community hub, civic whare (public meeting house), exhibition gallery and museum. It will be located on the site of the former council chambers and library, between Wharf Street and Hamilton Street.

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 for approval on Monday.

The $306.3 million project received its first funding boost yesterday, with TECT (Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust) announcing it approved a $21 million grant. It is the community trust’s largest-ever funding investment so far.

TECT’s funding is specifically allocated to support the development of the museum and exhibition gallery.

Tauranga City Council commission chair Anne Tolley says the civic precinct would be an “enormous” benefit to the Bay of Plenty. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Tolley told Local Democracy Reporting the funding was “fantastic” and the council is “really appreciative”.

“They [TECT] sought community input, so again that gives us more confidence too, that there's huge support from the community to go ahead with this.”

Earlier this year, TECT asked people living in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty regions for their thoughts on their draft strategy and proposed funding plan, including providing funding towards the civic precinct.

The community feedback signalled strong support for funding strategic initiatives, including almost 70 per cent in support of TECT making a contribution to the civic precinct development. 

TECT chairman Bill Holland says in a statement: “As a community-focused trust, TECT aims to support initiatives that contribute to our region’s vibrancy, connectedness, growth and economic success. Te Manawataki o Te Papa certainly ticks all of the boxes.

“This is one of the most exciting and significant projects the people of Tauranga will see come to fruition in their lifetime.”

Initial costings for the precinct were $303.4m, but the latest business case has come in at $306.3m.

Increased costs are related to the exhibition gallery and museum, and include a 10 per cent contingency, according to the Te Manawataki o Te Papa - Design and Cost Update report in the meeting’s agenda.

Tolley says: “One of the biggest fears that we had when we consulted, and the sceptics say, ‘Oh the costs are going to blow out and you're never going to do it.’ To get from preliminary design to detailed design with just over 1 per cent difference, they've worked really hard, both the design teams, but also our staff.

“We are really focused on getting the maximum benefit for the community.”

An aerial overview of Te Manawataki o Te Papa. Image: Tauranga City Council.

The ratepayer contribution to the precinct is $151.5m and Tolley says this is the most the council would take from rates, because that’s the promise the commission made to ratepayers.

Council CEO Marty Grenfell says the $151.5m is likely to be raised through an Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) levy from the government and be paid back by ratepayers through a targeted rate over 30 years.

The remaining $154.8m would be funded through local and community grants, $12.1m in “Better Off” funding from the government, other government grants and developer contributions.

The Financial Strategy - Te Manawataki o Te Papa report, in the agenda, shows a potential shortfall between $65.8M and $91.6m.  

This shortfall could be made up by an “Asset Realisation Reserve”, that included the potential sale of the two council owned parking buildings in the CBD. Also using $13m of profit from the Tauranga Airport toward the information centre that would be located in the library, says Tolley.

These are “a backup plan” and the council recognised the need “to protect the car parking in the CBD,” she says.

“If the council makes those decisions, there will need to be a consultative process.”

The business case estimated there could be 5,500 people visiting Te Manawataki o Te Papa a day in10 years’ time, which would be an “enormous” benefit to the Bay of Plenty, says Tolley.    

“There will be regional benefits, economically as well as socially and culturally.”

If given the go-ahead, construction of the new civic precinct will start early next year, with the library and community hub the first building to be developed. The full programme of work is expected to be completed by the end of 2028.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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Make it happen

Posted on 21-07-2023 19:37 | By Informed

Time for the talking to stop.
Time to ignore the NIMBY’s
Time to focus on what the the citizens of the next 30 years want
Time to make it happen

Increasing disillusion

Posted on 22-07-2023 16:21 | By Let's get real

Our council cheerleader is as usual gung-ho to splash the cash and commit the ratepayers of the future to increasing debt that they will likely never benefit from. Much like a boat, council structures are empty holes that ratepayers will forever be throwing money into. The comment that really riled me up, was that 70% of the community that were "consulted" were in favour of $21 Million of public investment being given to council empire building projects. 70% of what exactly...? Don't forget that out of a population of around 150,000, we had 66 people who committed the ratepayers to building yet another museum at Gate Pa (But that was always going to happen quietly to keep one or two people on-side). Consultation is a lie. I have yet to see a Consultation document in with the demands for rate payments. Where is the ratepayers only Consultation.

What They Said

Posted on 23-07-2023 20:33 | By Inmediasres

Well said, Informed. Time to crack on with this transformational, once in a generation, change. Can't wait!

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