Major heritage investments possible

25/01/2018 5:00 p.m.

​25 January 2018 

Waipa District Council looks set to support multi-million dollar investments in protecting, enhancing and promoting the district's heritage but says it can't 'go it alone'.

Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the Council's draft 10-Year Plan will see Waipa heritage, including Waipa's role in the New Zealand Land Wars, given a major push over the next decade.  

But while a number of heritage projects will be included and budgeted for, getting them done will rely on strong partnerships, including with iwi, and on accessing non-ratepayer funding, he said. That could include funding from central government. 

The Council's draft 10-Year Plan, to be released for public comment in March, will highlight three potential areas of heritage investment over the coming decade:

A $3.6m spend on Waipa's cultural and ecological sites to make them more widely known and accessible and to improve facilities like toilets and signage. Effort would focus on Lake Ngāroto, the district's NZ Land Wars sites, Mā​takitaki, and sites in and around Pirongia.

- A $4.4 million spend on the category two Cambridge Town Hall to cover earthquake strengthening along with a potential upgrade to encourage community use.  

- A council contribution of $7.2 million to a new Waipa Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu.  Council is banking on a further $5.2 million in external funding and has budgeted a further $400,000 per year for exhibitions.

Mylchreest said the proposals recognised Waipa's huge role in New Zealand's history. 

"We have sites in Waipa that are unique, with important stories to tell that cannot be told anywhere else.  And people from all over New Zealand and beyond want to hear those stories. On that basis, we're hopeful of working alongside external funding partners to really showcase those stories and our shared history," he said.

Mylchreest said pulling together a 10-Year Plan demanded practicality coupled with bold thinking.  

"Some people will demand council only tackle the basics – roads and water and not much else. That's their view and no doubt we'll hear it. But if we (Council) don't put these ideas out there, who will?  A community isn't just about roads and pipes; it's about things that make Waipa a great place to live."

Mylchreest stressed that while he supports​ an investment in heritage, potential projects "could not and would not" be prioritised over core infrastructure.  The Council has already advised the draft 10-Year Plan will budget $100-million plus for both water and wastewater plus a further $138 million for stormwater, mainly in Cambridge.  Community projects already signaled also included an $11.8 million spend on cycleways and walkways.

While the Plan has yet to be formally signed off by elected members for community comment, Waipa i​s looking at an average annual rates rise over the next 10 years of 1.5% per year.  The introduction of district-wide water meters means water charges will no longer be included in rates bills from July 2018. Without the separate water meter charge, the average annual rates increase would be about 2.2%.

Media enquiries, contact Natalie Palmer on 027 807 3174​

Page reviewed: 26 Jan 2018 8:59am