Kawakawa wel­comes gov­ern­ment fund­ing

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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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