Before the weekend’s elections, approval was given for the redevelopment of Rotorua’s Lakefront.
Today, two days after her re-election, Steve Chadwick listened, head bowed as local Maori and stakeholders presided over a karakia at a site in which the first sod will be turned.
The brief welcome and prayer in nettlesome weather, in which the breeze whipped off the Lake Rotorua, was cut short and continued inside the comfort of the Rotorua Lakes Council’s cafeteria.
Steve, in her first official function since Saturday, says it’s about a year ago all involved in the project came together to affirm the decision.
The local council’s $20 million contributed was matched by $20m from central Government. With the redevelopment, which drew much opposition, a decision to leave QE at the lakefront (as reported several months ago by Rotorua Now) and an adjacent hotel multi-million development by Ngati Whakaue the venture will add lustre to an area of the town constantly under pressure.
Before Steve spoke, Ngati Whakaue elder Monty Morrison said the initial idea for the project dated as far back as 1966 when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles walked along the lakefront.
Over the years, the idea was revived, says Monty.
The present development was talked about in 2006, Steve says, but she did not mention that in today’s audience was Kevin Winters, who was mayor of Rotorua at the time.
“This has been on the backburner for many, many years – that was 13 years ago,” Steve says.
“But it wasn’t until three years ago that a new commitment to working in partnerships really created a genuine opportunity to move on the lakefront together and to move it forward.”
The PGF partnership funding venture overseen by NZ First Minister Shane Jones completed the partnership.
A number of individuals had contributed drive and commitment to the project. “Without that I would not be standing here,” says Steve.
She appreciated the fact the land had been gifted to the council by Ngati Whakaue.
The lakefront is not just a reserve, Steve says, for it defines Rotorua and the people of the land.
Arapeta Tahana of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust agreed that none of what was being acknowledged today would have eventuated but for the interest partnerships had in putting it together.
Peter Faulkner, general manager of the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust, noted the idea had come out of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s into the present decade.
He looked forward to the next stage of the development along the lakefront. He referred to the 1880s when the lakefront was designed to be the spa capital of the area.
■ The $16.8m first section will involve the construction of a new boardwalk along the lake edge from the existing commercial jetty, to the eastern area by the existing footbridge, as well as terracing along the lake edge which will provide space by the water to sit and relax.