Waipā district is rich in cultural and natural heritage. We have a great deal to share and an important story to tell.
We are home to many significant sites right across the district. These include ecological sites (for example Mt Pirongia, Maungatautari, Kakepuku, Lake Ngāroto, and Yarndley’s Bush), significant New Zealand Land Wars sites (for example Alexandra Redoubt, Rangioawhia, Te Tiki O Te Ihingarangi and Ōrākau) as well 10 category one heritage buildings and a further 52 category two heritage buildings. A lot of these sites are managed by Council and others are managed by community groups. As a Council, we have a legal responsibility to protect and promote our district’s natural and cultural taonga and our unique character and identity. But we could, and should, do more.
Each year, we currently spend about $500,000 in operating costs on maintaining some of our sites
(Rotopiko, Mangakaware, Maungatauri, Ngāroto). This funding is enough to reduce ecological loss and pest threats, maintain access for the general public and install minimal interpretative signage. But is not enough to restore key ecological processes and retain or increase the more sensitive native plants and animals.
A lot of our heritage and ecological sites (in particular NZ Land Wars sites, archaeological features, and significant natural habitats and features like wetlands) need better access-ways, walkways, restoration and interpretative signage.
With so much growth and development coming our way, we need to work hard to preserve these sites and protect what is left for future generations.
We also need to make sure we are ready to cater for the increasing trend in the heritage tourism market so we have sites people want to visit and spend time at.
Over the next 10 years, we are proposing to increase our investment in our significant cultural and ecological sites – particularly in our New Zealand Land Wars sites so they can become visitor attractions and boost our district’s economy.
The investment will go towards boardwalks, interpretative signage, creating better entranceways and improving public facilities such as toilets and changing areas. We will also focus on providing digital journeys for locals and visitors that enable people to really experience everything these sites have to offer.
Some of the key sites we will focus on over the next 10 years include:
These sites are our priority as they offer the most opportunity from a visitor and tourism perspective.
We are also proposing to build a new Waipā Discovery Centre that would act as a hub for all of these sites.
Over the next 10 years, we have budgeted $3.6m above our existing maintenance costs to go towards development of this area, including $2.3m on capital upgrades and $1.3m on operating costs.
These costs sit under Council’s heritage and parks and reserves budgets and are funded by ratepayers across the district. The $2.3m capital costs would be loan-funded and then repaid over 30 years by ratepayers.
This table gives you a rough idea of how much has been set aside in your rates bill to fund this proposal.
We have used an average cost over the 10 years to show what the impact would be for the operating and capital costs of the project.
|Town||Property type and value||Annual impact on ratepayer
(average over 10 years)
|Te Awamutu||Residential $430,000||$7.56|
The other option is we continue with business as usual and spend around $500,000 each year to focus on the basics – reducing pest threats, maintaining access and installing minimal interpretative signage. While we will be able to do some work, it will mean we have to focus on fewer sites.
As a Council it is our responsibility to preserve our significant sites and with them, our significant stories. What’s more, we believe an increased investment in these sites, done well, is likely to encourage more visitors to our district, who in turn will contribute to our local economy.