Improving the departure point to Kāpiti Island, and providing an iconic visitor experience has been a discussion point for our community for many years.
It was consulted on during the 2017 Maclean Park Te Ūruhi Development Plan, and funding was signalled in the Council’s 2018–38 Long-term Plan, and set aside in both 2019/20 and 2020/21 Annual Plans.
Councillors voted on 25 February 2021 to proceed with Te Uruhi (previously known as the Kāpiti Gateway), which will be built in Maclean Park, Paraparaumu Beach. Council also voted to accept the name for the centre, Te Uruhi, which was graciously gifted (koha) by Kāpiti iwi, Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.
Currently there is no focal point on the Paraparaumu beachfront for visitors; nothing telling the Kāpiti Island conservation story, celebrating our rich cultural history, or connecting the mainland to the island.
There is a recognised need to tell the Kāpiti Island story, as well as those of the many other attractions and activities in our district, and to protect the island from current and future biosecurity threats (such as Kauri dieback, myrtle rust and Argentinian ants) through improved biosecurity measures.
Visits to Kāpiti Island are well below capacity, at around 15,000 visitors/year. There is significant opportunity to grow this without impacting the unique environment or operating 365 days a year.
Developing Te Uruhi will achieve these goals, create jobs and provide a much-needed boost to our tourism economy post COVID-19. It will enhance the Tikotu Stream mouth, and provide accessible access to and from the beach. It will provide a focal point for visitors, and add to the Paraparaumu Beach offering for young and old, for local residents and visitors alike.
History of developing Te Uruhi
A discussion about a ‘gateway’ to Kāpiti Island has been taking place in Kāpiti for 30 years.
|1990s||A feasibility study carried out in 1992 concluded that a visitor centre was a viable proposition.|
|2013||In 2013, a feasibility study by Tourism Research Consultants Limited (TRC) – a tourism, recreation and conservation planning consultancy – recommended a facility was developed at Paraparaumu Beach and included an interactive visitor centre.|
|2017||A ‘Gateway/ Visitor Attraction Centre’ was identified as a priority project in the 2017 Maclean Park Management Plan. Development of the plan was carried out in partnership with iwi and included three rounds of public consultation. The centre would be designed to enhance the park experience, improve the expression of mana whenua and conservation stories, and improve the visitor experience for Kāpiti Island.|
|2018||The project was included in the Kāpiti Coast Toitū Kāpiti 2018–38 Long-term Plan as a project to be investigated within three years.|
The Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) presented us with an opportunity to secure up to 50 per cent of the project costs associated with building a Gateway Centre.
The CRRF process required us to move at pace, and we were able to do this because of the work already done, including extensive consultation through the Maclean Park Management (PDF, 2.39MB) planning process in 2016/17 (which included three rounds of public consultation) and the Gateway Feasibility Study (PDF, 1.58) in 2019/20 (with key stakeholders). Council submitted its application (PDF, 1.5MB) in June 2020.
To be considered for the CRRF, our application had to demonstrate that this project will:
- create jobs (both in the construction phase, and long term)
- be viable over the long term
- be able to start within 12 months of funding being confirmed.
We also needed to demonstrate that a resource consent application had been lodged.
On 5 August 2020 we were advised that the Government has committed 50 per cent of the estimated $4.46 million project cost from its COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. The funding committed can't be applied to any other projects.
As part of Council's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) application for funding for the project, we had to demonstrate that a resource consent application had been lodged.
Due to time constraints, it was not possible to seek Council's agreement to the Gateway building CRRF application before the resource consent application was submitted. The consent application for land use has been lodged with the Council’s resource consents team and it is working its way through the process. The resource consents team will advise if it needs to be publicly notified. The resource consent for the stream re-naturalisation and the replacement bridge has been approved by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
A preliminary concept design was submitted for resource consent that is at the upper bounds of what we believe would be built on the site. There will be further engagement with iwi, key stakeholders and community representatives to flesh out the design and ensure it meets the community’s needs (including the internal layout). Changes or amendments can be made easily to the resource consent, providing they do not increase the building footprint.
The Council spent around $250,000 to prepare the Gateway project for applying for CRRF funding. This figure includes the costs associated with technical assessments required to support the resource consent application, future stages of the build and project costs.
Technical assessments include:
- topographical survey
- ecological assessment
- visual effects assessment
- structural engineering
- geotechnical assessment
- traffic impact assessment
- cultural impact (mana whenua) assessments
- planning and resource consent preparation.
We invited five architects to submit concepts for the building. Four accepted the invitation – two from Kāpiti and two from Wellington. We limited the invitations to five, as Council paid for the competition entries, to help encourage local participation. Engaging in tender processes can be very costly for small architects, and we did not want the cost of participating to be a barrier to entry.
The concept selection panel consisted of the project Governance Group, and two independent architects. They also received advice from specialists on resource consenting, integration with Maclean Park, and biosecurity.
The architects invited to participate had to be local, have proven experience in visitor centre design and/or experience with the site, and proven experience in coastal sites. Criteria for the building design included:
- taking into account the coastal environment
- including eco-building principles
- ensuring the building is relocatable
- meeting the needs of visitors, including those visiting the region, park and Kāpiti Island
- ensuring that it worked operationally for the tour operators
- providing a biosecurity facility in keeping with the status of the island
- having the ability to grow in the future, to allow for other tenants
- enhancing the ecological values of the site
- meeting the requirements of the Maclean Park Management Plan (PDF, 2.39MB)
- reflecting the cultural significance of the site, and telling our history.
See the Gateway design requirements (PDF, 818KB) document for more information.
At the end of the design competition process, the selection panel chose the design that best met all the criteria of the design requirements (PDF, 818KB).
Community engagement and consultation
Improving the Kāpiti Island departure point and providing an iconic visitor experience has been a discussion point for our community for many years; the concept of a Gateway was first raised in Kāpiti at least 28 years ago, and has been revisited many times.
Council undertook significant consultation in 2016/17 as part of the Maclean Park Te Uruhi Refresh, which included providing for a Kāpiti Island visitor centre at the park. This consultation was wide-ranging, including three rounds of public consultation, and as a result the draft plan was changed to allow more space for the development. Through this process the site on the south side of the Tikotu stream was also identified as the possible location.
In addition, mana whenua, Department of Conservation, the Kāpiti Boating Club, Underwater Club Kapiti, Coastguard Kapiti, Kāpiti Island concessionaires, the Paraparaumu Beach business community and other key stakeholders were invited to contribute to the TRC Feasibility Study (PDF, 1.58MB) on the Kāpiti Gateway in 2019. The design requirements were drawn from both these sources.
Kāpiti Coast District Council led the development of the Indicative Business Case (PDF, 3.42MB), resource consent and COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) application, with support from partners and stakeholders.
An independent Governance Group has been established to make recommendations to help inform the project, and a separate Project Advisory Group was also established, to ensure the voice of the community is reflected in this project. This advisory group includes the Kāpiti Boating Club, Underwater Club Kapiti, Coastguard Kapiti, Kāpiti Island Nature Tours, Kāpiti Island Eco, Kāpiti Boating Club, Dive Kāpiti, the Paraparaumu Beach Business Association, Wellington NZ, Kāpiti Economic Development Agency (KEDA), the Chamber of Commerce, and The Guardians of the Marine Reserve.
The site is a site of significance to Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai, and is recognised in Greater Wellington Regional Council's Proposed Natural Resources Plan. Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai are represented on the project Governance Group.
Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai have combined to signal their support for the development by gifting (koha) the name Te Uruhi. Te Uruhi is the name mana whenua gave to the proposed site and surrounding area. They see Te Uruhi as a place to:
- recognise the significance to iwi in the spirit of partnership between iwi and the Council as Treaty partners
- strengthen the links between Kāpiti Island and the mainland
- help people understand the national significance of Kāpiti Island and its importance to them
- strengthen biosecurity measures available to protect this taonga for future generations
- be a cornerstone for increasing the visibility of the area’s significant history
- share and educate through storytelling and reflection
- improve the environment both directly and indirectly by improving the condition of the mouth of the Tikotu Stream
- enhance the mana of Kāpiti Island, as well as Council’s partnership with iwi and the entire community they serve.
Council has received letters of support for the Gateway project from Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai.
- Council awaits independent process review of Te Uruhi (28 June 2021)
- Te Uruhi plans progressing (16 June 2021)
- Independent process review of Te Uruhi under way (13 April 2021)
- Green light for the Kāpiti Gateway Centre, Te Uruhi (25 February 2021)
- Council to discuss future of proposed Kāpiti Gateway next week (19 February 2021)
- Councillors briefed on updated business model for proposed Kāpiti Gateway Centre (9 February 2021)
- Gateway decision approaching (7 December 2020)
- Kāpiti Gateway funding application released (15 September 2020)
- Kāpiti Gateway gets the green light (6 August 2020)
- Kāpiti Gateway Building passes first hurdle (29 May 2020)
- Council releases concept design for the proposed Kāpiti Island Gateway building (21 May 2020)
- Kāpiti Gateway Centre progresses to business case (13 March 2020)