The Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust last week revealed a model of the $20 million cultural centre they plan to have on Whangarei District Council land on the Hihiaua Peninsula.
The idea of the centre is to enhance the teaching of tikanga Māori, traditional arts and the sharing of cultures. Chairman Richard Drake says ”It will help retain and carry on Māori culture, provide educational opportunities, help some people from falling through the gaps in our education and social networks, and provide tourism opportunities,” he says. “The focus is on teaching people the traditional culture and language that many people have lost or forgotten.”
The centre will not be using ratepayer’s money says Mr Drake. The centre will go well with the Whangarei Art Museum and another proposed Art Centre on the waterfront.
Funding for this project is tight however a funding strategy is being completed at the moment, with funding already received from Te Papa, Te Puni Kokiri and rent concessions from the council.
The proposed centre features an exhibition and sales area, climate-controlled museum area to display taonga, plus art and teaching spaces which will have glass viewing areas for visitors to look through. A covered open space can be used for gatherings and large powhiri, while a large theatre will have opening walls allowing for indoor and outside use. The centre will also include a restaurant, catering facilities, conference space and lecture facilities.
It has been designed by Moller Architects, the group behind Auckland’s Sky Tower, and landscape architects Boffa Miskell.
The design includes a grass roof over the museum and the public space will be enhanced so everyone can use it.
Mr Drake says a feasibility study showed the project is feasible as long as the trust does not take on any debt in construction.
The project goes back almost 25 to 30 years when the land was first set aside for the centre, he says.
“People recognised that there was nowhere in Whangarei where people could come to learn about Māori culture.”
Mr Drake says the project has got good support, including from local kaumatua and kuia.