Whakatāne set for economic growth

Published: 6 May, 2020 · Updated: 1 December, 2020

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The eastern Bay of Plenty town, Whakatāne has received $36.8 million into three waterfront and visitor projects to help transform the town and wider region.

Manahautū o Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Leonie Simpson

Manahautū o Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Leonie Simpson

The projects funded by the Provincial Development Unit will help build the local economy, create hundreds of jobs, attract future investment and unlock tourism, cultural and commercial opportunities. They include: 

  • a new commercial boat harbour ($19.6m equity stake, loan and grant from Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)),
  • revitalisation of the riverfront and town centre ($9.6m loan from PGF), and
  • the development of a new visitor hub and cultural centre ($7.6m from NZ Upgrade Programme).

The harbour development will mean better facilities that will increase the economic returns of the wharf as a critical asset for the local community.

Situated on a 10.9ha block of Māori freehold land, it will address the need for more berths and offer better protection from the dynamic river environment. 

The riverfront revitalisation programme is a vital part of the overall regeneration programme that seeks to establish a world-class, small town destination. It includes a significant upgrade to the riverfront promenade and the remediation and improved accessibility of the existing town wharf. 

Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner standing in front of the moana

Whakatāne Mayor, Judy Turner

The visitor hub will see the Whakatāne Army Hall transformed to be a focal point for cultural and historical storytelling, retail, and a space for training, meetings and civic events. 

The projects are part of a wider Whakatāne Regeneration Programme jointly developed by Whakatāne District Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to boost their marine and tourism sectors.