Te Uruhi aligns with our Long-term Plan 2021–41, and has the potential to deliver numerous social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits to the Kāpiti Coast community.
2 March 2023 – Today councillors agreed not to proceed with the Te Uruhi facility project in its current form due to significant cost escalations in the construction sector and extra contingency required, as well as in projected operating costs.
Our community talk about the benefits of Te Uruhi they're looking forward to.
Te Uruhi will strengthen our protection of Kāpiti Island against current and future biosecurity threats.
Kāpiti Island is an internationally renowned bird sanctuary and nature reserve. It's a unique visitor experience in a predator-free paradise. Current biosecurity measures were designed to find rats and mice, and are not adequate to provide protection against other emerging threats. Better biosecurity facilities will improve protection of Kāpiti Island from current and future threats, including kauri die-back, myrtle-rust and Argentinian ants.
The development includes the ecological restoration of 55 metres of the coastal stretch of the Tikotu Stream. This work will re-naturalise the stream banks with new retaining walls and plantings of native species, and has been developed in collaboration with local iwi and others. It will enhance the ecology of the stream mouth (supporting the two at-risk native species that live in this stream – the long-finned eel and īnanga), and the biodiversity of the area.
A wider and more accessible bridge across the stream will improve connection to the beach, with easier and more attractive access.
Te Uruhi will help foster a greater sense of identity and place for our community. It will deliver a fully accessible space for a range of social activities – recreation, arts, culture and education.
The building, bridge and surrounding decking will accommodate mobility scooters, pushchairs and wheelchairs, and have seating areas with shade and shelter, so less able-bodied people will no longer need to drive onto the beach to view the island, or watch boats being launched and retrieved.
Te Uruhi will provide a focal point for visitors to our district, many of whom stay overnight and contribute to our local economy. The improved public access – through the new paths and fully accessible bridge – will add to the vibrancy of Paraparaumu Beach.
Te Uruhi will be designed to celebrate our rich cultural history and improve the visibility of mana whenua’s history. The site has great historical and cultural significance, as the arrival place of local iwi to this area, and as a pā. For hundreds of years it has been a well-used landing and taking off point, linking the island and the mainland.
It was the site of a fierce battle to determine ownership of the area, and of a mainland whaling station. Te Uruhi will tell the stories of the site, the island and our district, celebrating our rich cultural history.
Te Uruhi will have a number of economic benefits. Over its building and operation, it will deliver training and employment opportunities for our construction sector, rangatahi, and many volunteers. It will be a catalyst for economic growth in our district, and will provide a much-needed boost to our tourism economy post COVID-19.
During construction an estimated 16 jobs will be created, plus professional services providers and suppliers. Once completed, it’s estimated that in 2023 (the first year of operating) a further eight jobs will be created in the tourism and supporting sectors. This is expected to increase to 22 additional jobs by 2030.
Increasing tourism to the region will help support local jobs, and the additional economic revenue of Te Uruhi and Kāpiti Island tourism by 2030 is estimated to be $1.91 million. Te Uruhi will generate local employment opportunities during construction and beyond, and provide much-needed economic stimulus to businesses in the surrounding area.
While Te Uruhi will promote the district's many activities, attraction and events, we lack data to calculate economic benefits of the full uplift that it will generate. Using only visitor numbers for Kāpiti Island (collected by the Department of Conservation), the additional economic impact of Te Uruhi and Kāpiti Island tourism in 2023 is estimated to be $0.78 million Gross Regional Product (GRP).
Te Uruhi aligns with and supports local, regional and national strategies and plans in economic development, tourism, conservation, biodiversity, public art, education, and iwi aspirations to share our districts culture and heritage.
It sits was mentioned in Council’s Long Term Plan 2018–38, and supports our Economic Development Strategy objectives for 2020–23. It's identified in the Maclean Park Management Plan 2017 as a key development project for this destination park.
At a regional level Te Uruhi aligns with, and supports the objectives of, the Wellington Regional Strategy 2012, to build a resilient, diverse economy that creates jobs, supports the growth of high-value companies and improves the region’s overall economic position. WellingtonNZ, our Regional Tourism Organisation, supports the development.
At a national level, Te Uruhi aligns with, and supports the objectives of:
- the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund
- the New Zealand–Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy
- New Zealand Māori Tourism He Toa Takatini
- New Zealand Arts, Cultural and Heritage Tourism Strategy to 2015
- the Department of Conservation’s Heritage and Visitor Strategy (to be released this year)
- New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2000–2020
- the Kāpiti Island Strategic Advisory Committee.
The Kāpiti Island Conservation Management Strategy sets out the total number of people who can visit Kāpiti Island each year. The theoretical annual visitor limit to the island is 58,000 per annum, with the daily limit set at a maximum of 160 people per day. In the future, there may be ways that the daily limits can be adjusted to help meet demand.
Visits to Kāpiti Island currently sit at only 25 per cent (around 15,000 visitors) of theoretical annual capacity. There is significant opportunity to grow this without impacting the island’s unique environment. Records from one Kāpiti Island tour operator show that the average number of operating days per year is 233.2 days.
The potential for future growth in visitor numbers has been factored into the proposed concept design for Te Uruhi. Both the Department of Conservation and iwi support managed growth in visits to the island.
Visitor numbers to Kāpiti Island show a steady increase over the past five years, from 4579 in 2014 to 15,696 in 2019 – growing at an average of 29 per cent each year.
For the purposes of the indicative business case to support our PGF application, we assumed the growth rate for visitors to Kāpiti Island will be 12.5 per cent per annum (less than 50 per cent of the average annual growth rate over the past five years).
Current arrangements mean biosecurity checks are conducted in a local shop or on a table in the Paraparaumu Boating Club car park. While we have been very fortunate to date, neither of these locations provide optimal biosecurity to ensure Kāpiti Island remains free of plant, pathogen and animal pests, due to the potential for contamination when travelling from the biosecurity check to the boat departing for Kāpiti Island.
Te Uruhi will include a dedicated baggage self-check room, which will play a vital role in strengthening biosecurity measures and protecting the island from animal, pathogen and plant threats such as Kauri dieback, myrtle rust and Argentinian ants.
Biosecurity to protect the taonga that is Kāpiti Island is a shared responsibility. The Department of Conservation (DOC) has invested in this for many years, and continues to do so, with a substantial annual operating budget. DOC supports the proposal to improve biosecurity protection checks for the island, and it's envisaged that biosecurity processes will be managed by the Kāpiti Island tour operators (as happens now), helped by DOC-trained volunteers. This is a model that works successfully for other nature reserves, such as Matiu–Somes Island and Mana Island, and DOC has indicated that they are keen to support a similar model for Kāpiti Island.
It is not uncommon for councils to partner with DOC and community groups to facilitate and manage biosecurity, to protect their taonga for their communities.
We are looking at a range of options for how Te Uruhi might operate. This includes using Council staff to support its day-to-day operations.
People will be able to purchase tickets for Kāpiti Island tours from the centre. There might be a gift shop, focusing on locally sourced high-quality artisan products. In the future, additional complementary tourism businesses such as bike hire might also operate from the site.
This project aims to enhance and grow the retail offering that already exists in the area, by creating a stronger connection between the beach and the shops to better facilitate the movement of people through the area.
Council staff are exploring a range of additional funding opportunities for this project to reduce the potential cost to Kāpiti ratepayers. This includes additional sources of capital funds and ongoing sponsorship to help offset operating costs. Electra have confirmed sponsorship of solar panels for the building, up to the value of $20,000.
The operating model for Te Uruhi formed part of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) review. PwC considered all options, from Council owning and operating the Centre to Council outsourcing the ownership and all operations. Their recommendation was for Council to own and operate all aspects, apart from food and beverage (should that option be chosen). PwC recommended that Council out-source this and, if that option is chosen, it's likely Council would hold an open tender for the operator.