Iwi-council multiuse centre inches closer in Manāia

By Contributor

Manāia's ambitions have superseded STDC's initial 2020 plan for a combined community and sports centre. Photo / STDC

By Craig Ashworth, Local Democracy Reporter

A joint iwi-council bid to build a multipurpose community and sports centre in Manāia is a step closer to reality.

Project Tūkau plans to replace Manāia's existing sports complex and hall in a collaboration between Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust and South Taranaki District Council.

Councillors gave officials the go-ahead to work up a business case with Te Korowai at Monday's STDC Policy and Planning committee.

Earthquake risks closed the hall in 2015, and the sports centre in 2018.

Meanwhile Ngāruahine uri (descendants) had been calling for Te Korowai to relocate its headquarters from Hāwera back to their own rohe (tribal area).

The Trust pouwhakahaere Paula Carr said they need more than an office: "a cultural creative space to support large iwi activities, and which complements the role and mahi of our hapū at a pā level."

In Te Korowai's annual report, Carr said if Project Tūkau goes ahead it "would include a sale, development and long-term lease back with the South Taranaki District Council."

"It may also include a management contract for the civic facilities (library, hall, pools)."

Te Korowai o Ngāruahine pouwhakahaere Paula Carr says a new base in Manāia needs a "cultural creative space" to support iwi, hapū and whānau activities. Photo / Te Korowai o Ngāruahine

Te Korowai o Ngāruahine pouwhakahaere Paula Carr says a new base in Manāia needs a "cultural creative space" to support iwi, hapū and whānau activities. Photo / Te Korowai o Ngāruahine

The council and iwi have published an 'outcomes framework' for Project Tūkau after intensive community consultation.

The Manāia community drew up an ambitious wish-list: a centre for a rejuvenated town showcasing Ngāruahinetanga; community initiatives and events; arts and education; whānau and hapū celebrations; ANZAC commemoration to replace the memorial hall; wānanga, festivals, concerts and productions; an accessible gym and sports facility; youth social initiatives and counselling; health and wellbeing; a market space, commercial kitchen and café; civil defence centre; and possible co-location of library, gallery, and meeting rooms.

More than one building might be needed in a prioritised development phased over years.

All the ideas would feed into the development of a business case, which the Toi Foundation (formerly TSB Community Trust) has agreed to fund.

Deputy Mayor and Pātea councillor Robert Northcott said the proposal made good sense for Manāia and could be a template for other partnerships.

But he cautioned that "as in any partnership the agreement, the business case, needs to be fairly robust and well worked through."

Mayor Phil Nixon said it was fantastic to work in a ground-breaking partnership with an iwi organisation.

"I'd like to commend Te Korowai for the hard work that they have put into this so far, to have got it to this stage. They're really keen on it and they're really working hard on it."

The name Tūkau springs from the Parihaka resistance movement that Ngāruahine was part of, to stop Crown confiscation of land.

'Tū' is to stand, establish, hold, and convene: 'kau' means unreservedly, totally, without any doubt.

The Manāia and Districts War Memorial Hall is an earthquake hazard and would cost $1.8 million to fix. Photo / Aotea Utanganui

The Manāia and Districts War Memorial Hall is an earthquake hazard and would cost $1.8 million to fix. Photo / Aotea Utanganui

In 2018 the council earmarked up to $1 million to rebuild the hall and drew up plans for a combined hall and sports centre.

But many in the community demanded an assessment of earthquake-strengthening and refurbishing both existing facilities: the estimates came in at $1.8 million for the hall and $1.3 million for the sports complex.

Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust said it has "identified a large multi-million-dollar asset allocation towards impact investments over the next five years and with a long-term horizon."

"This will provide benefits not only to Ngāruahine businesses and whānau, but to the local economy in the form of increased enterprise and job creation."

The 'outcomes framework' document reported the population of Manāia-Kāpuni fell four percent between the 2006 and 2018 censuses. But the official Māori population increased 19 percent to become 36 percent of the total - despite the Government admitting Māori had been significantly under-counted.

Manaia township recorded a 45 percent Māori population - mainly Ngāruahine - but the framework found there was very little mana whenua history and culture in civic planning and design.

Having reached the stage of a business case, Te Korowai o Taranaki will now negotiate a new heads of agreement for the joint venture with the mayor and new chief executive Fiona Aitken.

Te Hāwera councillor Andy Beccard said the district needed more joint ventures.

"We haven't got enough people to have facilities for everyone and everything so joint ventures, as far as I'm concerned, are amazing."

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air