Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited and the Whakatāne District Council are jointly seeking funding from Central Government to accelerate economic development opportunities in the Whakatāne District.

A partnership approach is enabling steady progress on the development of a business case to secure Central Government support for the transformational Whakatāne Waterfront and Town Centre Regeneration project.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chief Executive, Leonie Simpson says the project offers the opportunity to advance the holistic aspirations captured in Ko Ngāti Awa Te Toki – the collective vision for Ngāti Awa which consider social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeings.

“This is a catalyst for responding to the growing Ngāti Awa presence in the waterfront tourism economy and the synergies that exist through a collaborative development approach,” says Ms Simpson. “An opportunity has presented itself to accelerate the progress of our long-held aspirations, including the development of an ecosystem of interconnected strands that will enable us to move these forward.

Ms Simpson says development of the waterfront has long been a sensitive issue for Ngāti Awa – given the area’s immense historical and cultural significance – and the involvement of Ngāti Awa as a key strategic partner is critical to the success of the project.

“As a strategic partner, we will be able to influence project outcomes to ensure they not only stimulate community and economic development, but are also tightly aligned with our tribal values and the aspirations ngā uri o Ngāti Awa hold for the future.

Whakatāne District Council Chief Executive, Steph O’Sullivan says the project team has been working steadily to deliver a compelling business case for investment in growing our tourism and marine economy. This includes a range of initiatives that will create jobs and promote vibrant, connected and resilient communities, while ensuring the connection between people and the environment is enhanced.

“This project offers some incredible opportunities for our District to work in partnership with Ngāti Awa and Central Government to transform the future of Whakatāne,” says Ms O’Sullivan. “A $646,000 grant to assist the preparation of a business case has enabled access to skill and expertise in the marine, tourism, and property sectors, and urban and cultural design. We are working as a team with these specialists to build a robust business case with a common purpose of bringing prosperity to our community and ensuring a sound environmental base.

“The project team has also been engaging with a number of key interest groups and stakeholders, and will embark on wider community engagement in the near future. The project also takes into account a broad base of engagement work that has been carried out with the community in recent years.”

The business case being developed to apply for Central Government co-investment includes key infrastructure for the marine and tourism sectors, a high-level plan for the Whakatāne waterfront and CBD refresh and associated finance and funding options.