Te Manawa FAQs - about the change


Why does Council want to make changes in the inner city?

Ongoing revitalisation and improvement of Rotorua's central city has been a Council priority for a number of years now. Council recognises that a vibrant and exciting inner city is a major factor in attracting people, activities, events and development to the district.

Projects such as Eat Streat and the Rotorua Night Market have been part of that continuous revitalisation strategy.

During the Rotorua 2030 Vision setting exercise in 2013 retailers, visitors, workers and businesses told Council  they wanted a vibrant city which cares about the environment, has a strong economy, supports the arts and connects its people to each other and the rest of the world.

The 2030 Vision is at the heart of what we do in the inner city.

Why did Council choose to change City Focus?

Tutanekai Street is the spine of the inner city, linking retail and business areas to Lake Rotorua. Hinemoa Street is a major connection from Government Gardens to Kuirau Park.

During Rotorua 2030 consultation retailers strongly argued that the sails, building and trees dominated the space, hiding shop fronts and needed to go. Further consultation highlighted that residents also wanted to see change but did not want to see City Focus removed completely and that it still needed to remain a space where people were the priority. They also agreed that the restriction in vehicle turning movements was affecting their business.

The removal of the structures and traffic detours that featured in the City Focus helps to improve sight lines, foot traffic and traffic flow through the inner city.

The space was also gifted a new name, Te Manawa, by Ngati Whakaue (see more about this below).

When did all this start?


The Rotorua CBD Revitalisation Strategy was undertaken by Opus International Consultants. This strategy first identified the need to strengthen Tutanekai Street​.


​The 2009 - 2019 Ten Year Plan identified a key theme of Economic Growth – Stimulating the local economy. This included CBD revitalisation.


​Urban Design Framework built on the revitalisation strategy and lead to a number of projects including Eat Streat and Rotorua Night Market.


​Rotorua Economic Growth Strategy was developed alongside community stakeholders.


​Council proposes more initiatives to revitalise the inner city in the 2013/2014 Annual Plan. Initiatives included changes to parking times and fees, the Inner City Enterprise department and a possible transport centre.


​Rotorua works with the community to set the goals for the Rotorua 2030 Vision. A vibrant inner city is identified as one of top priorities.


​Council held workshops with inner city retailers and other stakeholders. Strategies were set for potential inner city revitalisation projects.

First Ideas Shop opened on Tutanekai Street where the public submitted more than 1000 ideas and suggestions for inner city improvements. The need for change at City Focus was highlighted as a major theme in feedback.

Draft Inner City Revitalisation Strategy put to the community for consultation which included changes to City Focus.



Inner City Revitalisation Strategy finalised and 2015 – 2025 Long-term Plan adopted. Three concept plans for the City Focus Refresh were designed and shown to public at the second Ideas Store on Hinemoa Street. Rotorua public had the opportunity to vote on their favourite design during the month that the store was open..

Councillors approved plans to refresh City Focus in November and Stage 1 started by removing the sails and building in December.


​Stage 2 of construction begins - removing structures within City Focus and recladding pillars and adding lighting. Hinemoa and Tutanekai sculptures were removed to be refurbished by the original artist Albert Te Pou. Ngati Whakaue as mana whenua put forward the name Te Manawa meaning 'The Heart' to represent the location as well as the cultural heritage of Hinemoa and Tutanekai.


​Hinemoa and Tutanekai tekoteko (carved human form) are returned to Te Manawa. Final construction begins.

Te Manawa wa​s officially opened in October 2017.

What did Council want to achieve by changing the former City Focus area?

Through several rounds of consultation Council identified that retailers, residents, visitors and business owners wanted to see change in the inner city but wanted to retain a central community space.

Feedback highlighted:

  • A need to improve sight lines
  • A need to restore traffic flow along Tutanekai and Hinemoa Streets
  • A need to bring more people into the inner city and more business
  • A need to better recognise our cultural heritage
  • A need for a place with a focus on people, enabling them to gather, stop and enjoy  

Te Manawa is a shared space that accommodates pedestrians, cars, bikers and other users. The open spaces and clear sight lines between shops and streets encourages more foot traffic and the addition of 50% more open space allows people to host events or activities or just sit back and relax.

What are the changes we see now Te Manawa is complete?

  • 50% more open public space with clearer, prioritised pedestrian routes
  • More shared space for relaxing, socialising and events
  • Mix of paved, lawn and garden surfaces
  • Improved spaces for cafes to extend seating
  • Safer pedestrian and traffic routes
  • No loss of parking spaces
  • Design that reflects cultural significance of Te Arawa  

Why were trees removed?

Initial feedback from retailers before the Te Manawa project started highlighted that the sails, trees and other structures within the former City Focus hindered sight lines between shops.

During Phase 2 some trees were removed and in Phase 3 another was removed during construction.

12 Dogwood trees replaced those that were removed. They were selected by Council's Parks and Reserves team for their suitability in inner city areas and are quite common in the Rotorua CBD. They are approximately 2.5 metres tall.

Were the materials used sourced locally?

Yes – the timber used in the construction of the pillars and seats were all supplied from local forests, using Abodo Timber, milled at Donelleys Sawmill. The timber does not include any chemicals but instead is thermally modified, helping it to withstand the Rotorua environment. They are proud to partner with Council on this project.

Read more about the partnership with Donelleys Sawmill here.

Did we lose any car parking?

No parks were removed for this project. 

Why did the project take so long?

The construction of Te Manawa started in December 2015 with the removal of the sails and the City Focus building and was completed in October 2017. During this time, factors such as a lack of available contractors, resulted in the project being broken up into stages.

Is Te Manawa​ Smokefree?

Yes Te Manawa is Smokefree. 

Page reviewed: 03 Jul 2019 10:08am