Plan for giant floating paua
They were a district looking for an identity.
He was a man with ideas, who once blew up a frigate to create a diving attraction.
Together, they could make a giant floating paua with a glass bottom floor, that would put them all on the map.
Former Wellingtonian of the Year Marco Zeeman has revealed a new concept for his home in Kapiti – an offshore paua building that would float off Paraparaumu Beach and act as a visitor centre for nearby Kapiti Island.
The paua centre would become a tourist attraction in its own right, with some visitors choosing to go on to the island, Zeeman said.
It would have a polished paua finish inside and out. The building would be built in Taranaki’s shipyards and could be towed by sea down the coast, he said.
‘‘Once it was put in position, rocks could be put around it to create a reef, and potentially it could have a glass bottom and [there] could be snorkelling off it.’’
‘‘Walking along the beach, I was thinking what would work, and thought paua, because of its shape would create the building: unlike a pipi, which is a flat thing.’’ Visitors could be ferried to the structure on amphibious vessels. ‘‘With the quality of other facilities being built around the country such as the ... soon-to-be built Hundertwasser Centre in Northland, I believe a truly iconic building is needed for Kapiti.’’
So far, it was a concept and Zeeman was not sure how much it might cost – but potentially between $20 million and $30m.
Zeeman is no stranger to pulling off difficult projects - he was behind the six-year mission to scuttle the 113-metre frigate, HMNZS Wellington, off Island Bay in 2005 to become a diving reef.
Kapiti Coast has searched for its economic identity for decades - now facing nearly $2 billion worth of new expressway bypassing the district’s towns. Past efforts included turning Otaki into a clean technology hub, pitching the district as a retirement-home mecca, and turning Paraparaumu Beach into a gateway to Kapiti Island.
Zeeman said his concept would avoid a squeeze on available land on the shoreline.
Kapiti Coast mayor K Gurunathan said there was an ‘‘opportunity’’ for a centre at the beach.
‘‘We’re open for spectacular ideas, blue-sky thinking – not a problem – but then the ratepayers wear it.’’
Kapiti Coast District Council was already looking to slow down spending on buildings and equipment, he said.
Strategy and planning group manager Sarah Stevenson said the council welcomed Zeeman’s enthusiasm but the council was ‘‘not in a position to support such a project’’. She said the council was looking at long-term plans for a visitor centre at Paraparaumu Beach.
Build the paua and they will come: Marco Zeeman’s idea of a giant offshore paua centre. Above, Zeeman, and below left, his project to convert a frigate into a reef.