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Construction Work On Rotorua Museum To Get Underway In June

Construction on Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa will start in June this year following confirmation of the final piece of project funding.

On 15 April, Central Government agreed to an additional $5million grant from the Provincial Growth Fund through Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa – RD), bringing their total investment to $22million when added to the previous $17million awarded to this project in 2019.

Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell says progressing with the project is a success for the community and for Rotorua as a top New Zealand destination.

“We listened to our community and have taken action to raise the significant amount of funding needed to make this happen, without increasing ratepayers’ contribution to this project of $15.5m.

“We’re incredibly grateful to have received this final $5m from Kānoa - RD which means construction can now get underway.

“This is a real success for our community as the project will benefit our economy, creating jobs and investment into the restoration of our iconic building and reputation as a world-class tourism destination.

“We don’t underestimate that this is a hugely significant construction project and we’re doing everything possible to ensure it’s delivered within budget.

“We extend our thanks to all our generous funders and everyone working on this project for our community,” says Mayor Tapsell.

“We understand the significant role the museum plays in the city’s identity and are pleased that the full build can now be completed with additional support from the government,” says Head of Kānoa – RD, Robert Pigou.

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“Combined with other regional development investments such as the Rotorua Lakefront development, Whakarewarewa Forest development, Te Pūtake o Tawa, Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa, Peka Industrial Park, and the QE Health and Wellness Centre, this will collectively enhance tourism and economic growth for Rotorua and the wider Bay of Plenty region,” he says.

In August 2023, following community consultation, Rotorua Lakes Council’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee voted in favour of proceeding with strengthening and re-opening the Museum, subject to several conditions being met, including a requirement that Council’s funding contribution remain as previously committed.

The establishment of a Building Governance Group for the project in September 2023 provided construction sector expertise to ensure successful delivery of the design, procurement and pre-construction aspects of the project. This led to cost saving measures being implemented and the procurement of Watts & Hughes for the construction contract.

With the recent Kānoa - RD funding, the building project is now fully funded, with the total building project expected to cost $73.55m. Fundraising will continue for the exhibition work.

A big thanks to the generous support of the project funding partners including from: Kānoa - RD $22m, Rotorua Trust $15m, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage $9m, Lotteries (Significant Projects Funding) $6m, Bay of Plenty Regional Council $4.1m (previously this was dedicated to exhibition development, but it now can be used for the building or exhibitions) and Lotteries (Environment and Heritage Funding) $0.35m.

Joe and Jo Anne La Grouw have generously committed the proceeds of sale from a significant artwork from their personal collection.

Watts & Hughes have a solid history of working on historic building projects, both locally and nationally. Watts & Hughes Construction Director, Mark Gutry, explains the category 1 listed heritage Bath House building, home to Rotorua Museum, is not a new building to them.

“We are excited to be working on the iconic Rotorua Museum again following our involvement with the South Wing extension of the building back in 2010-2011”, says Mr Gutry.

Watts & Hughes firmly believe that best outcomes derive from good people, and all problems can be resolved through good design and a collaborative team. Their local experience and presence go back over 15 years with projects such as; Rotorua Library redevelopment and expansion, Youth Justice Central, QE Health & Wellness Centre and Te Uru Rakau new office building to name a few.

Construction begins in June 2024 and is expected to be completed in 2027.

Exhibition development has been continuing and the focus will move now to gaining external funding to ensure that world-class exhibitions telling our local stories will be available when the building re-opens.

Recent timeline

17 April 2024: Construction contract confirmed with Watts & Hughes.

15 April 2024: Kānoa - RD announce $5m funding (in addition to $17m already committed).

2 April 2024: Rotorua Lakes Council voted to award the construction contract to Watts & Hughes Construction, subject to Cabinet approval of an additional $5m in funding from Provincial Growth Fund.

6 December 2023: Rotorua Trust announce additional $5m funding for project (in addition to $10m announced in 2018).

25 October 2023: Council seeking tenders from potential construction contractors.

13 September 2023: Building Governance Group was established.

2 August 2023: Council’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee voted to proceed with the strengthening and re-opening of Rotorua Museum with specific conditions being met.

24 May – 21 June 2023: Community consultation on Museum options.

2018 - 2023: Building and ground work investigations, design, resource and building consents obtained.

2018: Decision to invest $15.5m Council funding in the project to strengthen the building and re-open as a museum.

18 November 2016: Rotorua Museum closed following a rapid seismic risk assessment which determined the building was earthquake prone.

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