Kawakawa welcomes government funding
Kawakawa welcomed last week’s announcement by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones of funding for construction of a cultural hub in Kawakawa.
Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust chair Noma Shepherd said Te Hononga, the joining of cultures, would be an innovative and inspiring rammed earth building at the gateway to the Far North, housing an interpretive centre, gallery, workshop, library and council service centre.
The government’s Provincial Growth Fund would provide $2.3 million, adding to $2.2 million already secured from project partners (the trust, Te Runanga o Ngati Hine, Far North Holdings, the Northland Regional and Far North District councils, the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board and the Kawakawa Business and Community Association).
More than 250,000 people visited Kawakawa’s iconic Hundertwasser toilets every year, but tourists were left wanting much more, Mrs Shepherd said. The local project team would look to create a truly enhanced art, cultural and environmental experience, connect visitors to local culture and extend visitor time and spend in Kawakawa.
“The Hundertwasser toilets are already considered one of the Top 10 things to do in Northland, and we want to take the opportunity to build on that for our town and wider district,” she added.
A long-time proponent of a centre being developed on Hundertwasser Park behind the toilets, she was thrilled with Mr Jones’ announcement, and thanked the community, councils and government for coming together to help make it happen.
“It’s been a vision for over eight years, and I am so thankful for the support of our project partners, who have really helped shape the final proposal, which works for both visitors and our locals,” she said.
She had special thanks for FNHL for its support and expertise, and Mr Jones for having faith in the ability of those involved to make the project a reality and success for the community.
Pita Tipene, who chairs the Project Partnership Group alongside deputy Far North Mayor Tania McInnes, and chairman of Te Runanga o Ngati Hine, said Te Hononga would be a catalyst, and central to the integrated stories of the wider district, especially its Maori heritage.
Ngati Hine was committed to the project, and generating much stronger economic and social growth for the community.
Infrastructure was the biggest stumbling block for Kawakawa and Northland working to their full potential, Kawakawa Business and Community Association chairman Malcolm Francis said.
“We endorse the project and commend the improved car, coach parking, public toilets, freedom camper amenities, all part of the proposal.
“It is apparent with the influx of visitors we are already behind the eight ball in terms of infrastructure facilities,” he added.
Meanwhile last week’s funding news closely followed the issuing of a resource consent.
“We are very much looking forward to starting building this September, and aim to open in December 2019, marking 20 years since the opening of the Hundertwasser toilets on December 13, 1999,” Mrs Shepherd said.
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