Along with preserving our significant sites, we have an opportunity to make sure our stories of who we were and who we are today are not lost.

In partnership with Iwi, we are looking to build a Waipā Discovery Centre. This will be a space where our community and visitors can discover Waipā’s diverse and largely unknown social, cultural and natural history. The Centre will be a fundamental part of the Te Awamutu town centre development.

Located next to the Te Awamutu Library, it would provide a central education and entertainment facility connecting our significant sites right across the district.



Council owns and runs the Te Awamutu Museum on Roche Street. The museum houses our community’s precious collection of taonga (treasures). Many of these are of national and international significance and the collection is considered by some as one of three major collections in New Zealand along with Te Papa and Auckland Museum. Our museum also includes a small exhibition space, research centre and operates an education service and vibrant programme of public activities.

The current Te Awamutu museum building has reached the limits of its capacity and suitability as a museum space and education centre due to a variety of issues.

  • Lack of space – the current museum is extremely limited in the number and size of exhibitions it can provide. There is also a lack of adequate work spaces and storage space for our collections.
  • Location – the intention was always that once the library moved, the museum would follow. The current location is not sustainable as it is in a very low pedestrian area with limited parking. To be maximised, the museum should be next to other community facilities.
  • Technology – in today’s world, community expectations have changed about how museums deliver their services. We need to ensure our facilities are modern, up-to-date and use technology to tell our stories.

Current operating costs for the museum are around $850,000 (including maintenace, salaries etc).

A recent review of our museum delivery has told us that small museums are struggling to keep with the times and offer what people are now expecting. While we do our best to provide a great service, we do not have the room to  deliver modern and interactive exhibitions. 

We also have no capacity to house any further pieces, if our collection was to increase. Council also funds the Cambridge Historical Society, providing an operational grant of $160,000 per year to support staffing and operational costs of the Cambridge museum. 


We are proposing to build a Waipā Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu which will replace the current museum on Roche Street. 

The proposed Waipā Discovery Centre would include:

  • a new and better space to house and showcase our community’s precious and unique collection of taonga
  • ever-changing exhibition spaces and interactive zones that tell our unique Waipā stories
  • stories that connect to the actual sites of significance in our district
  • a research centre and ability to offer more research services to our community
  • a hub for our school and education programmes
  • the Te Awamutu i-SITE
  • a community gathering space.

If approved, construction would begin in 2020/21. The existing museum could be potentially sold, leased or used for Council staff offices if required. 

Discussions around the operating model for the Centre will take place with Iwi and are still to be confirmed.  
Te Awamutu is considered the most appropriate location due to the large number of taonga which belong in this area of the district.

Council plans to continue investing in the Cambridge Museum with approximately $160,000 per year as it is one   of our showcase sites in the district. 



Significant work is still required to decide exactly how the Waipā Discovery Centre would look, work and what it would include. At this point, $12.4m has been budgeted for  the design and build of the centre. 

Council is expecting external funding towards the building (such as fundraising and central government contributions) of around $5.2m. This means there will be a council contribution of $7.2m for the design and build. If the external funding target isn’t achieved, Council will need to consider alternative options for the project.

Approximately $4.7m has also been budgeted over the 10 years for exhibition planning, design, development and installation. 

The payment for the capital works (and interest expense) will be covered from district-wide funding. Any additional operating costs will be covered through a split of district wide funding (60 per cent) and funding from the Te Awamutu ward. The costs would be loan-funded and then repaid over 30 years by ratepayers. The operating costs for the centre’s exhibitions have been included in years 3 – 10. 

At this stage, we don’t know what the annual operating costs (and potential income sources) for the building are likely to be. Because this will be a much bigger (and better) facility, we can assume it’s going to cost more to run than the current museum as it will be open for longer, require more power and air conditioning etc. Council will be investigating the use of sustainable elements to minimise operating costs. Future running costs for an improved facility are not factored into the rates impact shown – but the total rates forecast does include provision for the current running costs.


Town Property type and value Annual impact on ratepayers
(average over 9 years starting in 2019/20)
Te Awamutu Residential $430,000 $39.36
Cambridge Residential $570,000 $26.50
Pirongia Residential $880,000 $38.39
Kakepuku Rural $7,100,000 $309.41
Maungatautari Rural $2,330,000 $101.57



The other option is to stick with what we are doing now. This means the Te Awamutu museum will remain on Roche Street and will continue to provide a limited number of exhibitions each year. 

The major risk for this option is that patronage of the facility will drop due to the museum building reaching the limits of its capacity and suitability as a museum space and education centre.



We believe the development of a Waipā Discovery Centre is an exciting opportunity for our district. The centre will enable us to protect, preserve and promote our district’s significant stories. The centre will be a facility that can be enjoyed by locals and will put us on the map by offering an attraction for regional, national and international visitors.



How can you go wrong? What a great asset this would be for our kids to learn!
I feel any improvements, new facilities etc. are what Te Awamutu needs not only to attract visitors but to have new residents. Facilities like these may also help with educating the young and perhaps provide somewhere for the youth to visit, appreciate and learn to love and respect Te Awamutu.
We need to make sure this centre has a strong link to all of our sites, there's no point it sitting in isolation.



Do you support the development of a new Discovery Centre?
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Waipa District Council
Private Bag 2402,
Te Awamutu, 3840
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