Tūwharetoa building new home for council to cement 'enduring relationship'

By Taroi Black

Taupō District Council and Te Whare Hono o Tūwharetoa have announced they are working together on a new civic administration building in the Taupō town centre.

Te Whare Hono o Tūwharetoa is a body representing various Ngāti Tūwharetoa trusts and companies.

They are hailing the building project as symbolic of their shared aspiration to seek a closer and enduring partnership, as well as creating a taonga of significance to the Taupō district.

Under the proposed arrangement Te Whare Hono o Tūwharetoa would buy the former Taupō RSA site at 67 Horomatangi Street from Taupō District Council and build a council headquarters  It will lease the majority of the building to the council but retain some co-tenancy space for Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board, Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust and Ngāti Tūwharetoa Fisheries Charitable Trust.

The project follows council consultation with the community earlier in the year, which showed community support to lease a building.

Council chief executive Gareth Green said the project was hugely significant for the Taupō District, symbolising a true partnership between the council and Tūwharetoa.

Cohesive relationship

“This is about creating an enduring relationship between the council and the mana whenua of this rohe. Being a co-tenant in this building with three Tūwharetoa entities will also be hugely beneficial to our partnership work with iwi.”

Te Whare Hono o Tūwharetoa chairman Rakeipoho Taiaroa said the project was an exciting development that would help mana whenua and local government to work more closely together and to build a cohesive relationship for the future.

Mr Green said the building would be built to Importance Level 4 of the NZ Building Code, with the seismic resilience for it to be used as an emergency operations centre after a natural disaster and to enable vital council infrastructure to continue to operate. It would also create extra efficiencies by bringing council staff, who are presently spread across five different sites, together under one roof again.

While today signifies an important step in the partnership, negotiations over key terms are continuing and any lease discussion would be concluded early next year.

It’s expected that construction would begin early in 2023, with the building ready to occupy in mid-2024.