Manawa - Heart of the City project



11 May 2017

Final stage of inner city project scheduled to start

Work about to begin on the third stage of development of Manawa – Heart of the City marks the completion of a project key to revitalising Rotorua’s inner city.

The refresh of the former City Focus site, which has been a three-stage project, will contribute towards the district’s goal to create a vibrant city centre which attracts people and activities. The Rotorua Lakes Council project was approved following feedback from inner city stakeholders and the community with the majority of people seeking change.

Based on key themes from feedback received the design was aimed at improving vehicular movement through the intersection, clearing sight lines in all directions and ensuring a focus on people, enabling better use of the space.

The project comes under Council’s District Development portfolio, led by Councillor Karen Hunt who says she is excited that completion of the project is now near.

“This will see the opening up of shared space in the inner city including slow-moving vehicles and will dramatically open up use of this area and create opportunities for residents and businesses alike,” Cr Hunt says.

“I’m thrilled we’re about to start the final stage and I thank the public for their patience, their feedback and their ongoing interest in helping to create a vibrant new heart of the city.”

Preparation for the final stage, which will involve remaining construction works including roading changes, landscaping and seating, is set to start next Monday, 15 May, weather permitting.

Fletcher Construction has agreed to a fixed price of $1.135m for the third stage. Work to date has cost a total of $231,000 and the project will be completed within the budget agreed in the Long-term Plan.

Next week contractors will move onto the site to prepare for the work ahead. Fencing will be installed and materials brought in. The final stage of work at the site is expected to be finished by early August but this is weather dependent. Noise and disruption will be kept to a minimum.

All details about the project, including background, decisions made and timelines are on Council’s website, click on the spotlight Manawa – heart of the city on the website home page or follow THIS LINK.

ABOVE: Bird’s eye view. Click on the image to view a larger version.


What’s happened so far?

Council approved concepts for changes to the City Focus in November 2015 and the project has, since then, gone through detailed design and been broken down into three stages.

The City Focus refresh underwent extensive consultation through three separate processes following a call for change to the central city area by the Inner City Steering Group, including businesses surrounding the City Focus.

Three concept designs were presented to the community for feedback in July 2015 and following that, a refined concept was approved. Inner city businesses were involved in decisions around the timing of the work.

Stage one was completed in December 2015 (removal of sails and building which was used by police staff and volunteers and City Safe Guardians).

Stage two was completed in December 2016 (two remaining pillars re-clad in timber with lighting added.

Two carved panels which tell the story of Te Arawa waka captain Tamatekapua and his whanau and ancestors have been relocated to Rotorua Airport.

The two carvings depicting Hinemoa and Tutanekai have been restored by their original carver and now adorn the two remaining pillars.

Two tendering processes for the final stage were unsuccessful in finding a suitable tenderer and a decision was made to delay the major works. Discussions with Fletcher Construction followed the company’s successful tenders for refurbishment of the library building and the iSite.

What are we getting?

  • 50% per cent more public open space

  • Clearer, prioritised pedestrian routes

  • Shared space zones east and west

  • Flexible spaces for relaxing and events

  • Mix of paved, lawn and garden surfaces

  • Improved spaces for cafes to open out on to

  • Safe pedestrian and through-vehicle routes

  • No loss of parking spaces

  • Design reflects stories of Tutanekai and Hinemoa

  • Recognises cultural significance to Te Arawa


What does the name Manawa mean?

Manawa means heart and in this case is both the heart of our city but also the heartfelt story of the two lovers Hinemoa and Tutanekai.  Manawa was put forward by Ngati Whakaue, who were consulted as mana whenua, following calls for a new name to reflect the changes taking place.


Why is this work being done?

The refresh of this area is part of the Rotorua 2030 vision to create a vibrant city heart. We consulted widely over the course of a year and the majority of people who gave us feedback (more than 90%) wanted to see change. Retailers strongly argued that the sails and the building which dominated the space needed to go.  This next stage is to complete the works including roading, seating and landscaping.


Are the materials sourced locally?

Yes!  The timber used in the construction of the pillars and seats are all supplied from local forests, using Abodo Timber, milled at Donelleys Sawmill.  They are proud to partner with us on this project.


Is this going to have an impact on shopping?

Council acknowledges some shoppers may feel impacted and apologises for this but contractors will keep noise, dust and disruption to a minimum.


Will there be any road or footpath closures?

To speed up the construction, the roads that include the left turns on both Tutanekai Street and Hinemoa Street at the site will need to be closed.  This was at the request of the retailers who are keen to get the work completed as soon as possible. Footpaths will be kept open.


What is happening with the Green Corridor during this time?

There will be diversions in place, where appropriate, and these will be clearly marked.


Where are iSite, City Safe Guardians and police going?

The iSite has been relocated to Fenton Street and the City Safe Guardians relocated some time ago to the Council’s Civic Centre. The police have also not been based in the central city for some time.


When will this stage be finished?

Weather dependent, the construction will be complete by the start of August.


Are we losing any car parking?

There will be some disruption during the construction but when the project is complete, there will be no loss of car parking.


ABOVE: How the area currently looks at night with the pillars lit up.

Page reviewed: 11 May 2017 8:00am