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Rotorua museum funding announced
13 August 2019
Rotorua museum funding announced
Government funding of $20m towards re-opening Rotorua Museum recognises its national significance and reinforces Rotorua’s direction and progress, Mayor Steve Chadwick says.
 
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones came to Rotorua today [Tuesday 13 August] to announce $15 million in funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and $5 million from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Regional Culture and Heritage Fund towards the strengthening and restoration of the Museum building.
 
[Read the joint release from the Prime Minister and Minister Jones HERE]
 
“Getting the Museum re-opened has been a priority for myself and Council and this announcement comes after months of ongoing talks with senior ministers,” Mayor Chadwick says. “Collectively we have worked very hard to secure the funding needed to re-open what has always been recognised as being of both local and national importance.
 
“This project will be another catalyst for significant positive economic and social outcomes for our community, supporting progress towards the district’s long-term vision and we are grateful for the Government’s ongoing support for our district’s progress,” the Mayor says.
 
“Along with the transformational lakefront and forest developments which have also been supported by the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, the Museum project will create jobs and provide economic benefit for our district by establishing a foundation for new business ventures to emerge.”
 
Mayor Chadwick says it was fitting the Government chose the 111th birthday of the opening of the historic Bath House to announce its significant contribution.
 
“There was never any doubt for us that our Museum should not be restored,” Mayor Chadwick says. “It was a matter of how we would do it and who we would need to partner with to achieve it because we knew we couldn’t do it alone. We have now secured $36 million in partnership funding which will enable us to re-open our iconic taonga.”
 
Due to its location, age and heritage status, work to prepare for construction has required specialist investigation, assessment, engineering and design, working closely with Heritage New Zealand.
 
“There hasn’t been anything to see from the outside but there has been a huge amount of work already undertaken behind the scenes to ensure that once we secured the funding needed, we would be ready to start,” the Mayor says.
 
The project aims to enhance the experience of visitors to Rotorua Museum by improving facilities and revealing historic features that have been hidden for many years. All work will be done in keeping with the historic status of the building.
 
Enabling works to prepare site for construction, including asbestos removal and under-floor strengthening, is underway ahead of the first phase of construction which will begin in the south wing. It is expected the museum will be ready for re-opening in 2022.
 
Project funding
 
It is estimated it will cost $45-$50m to strengthen and restore the building.  Council committed $15m in its 2018-28 Long-term Plan for seismic strengthening.  In December 2018 Rotorua Trust announced a commitment of $10m and Lottery recently announced a $6m grant from its significant projects fund.
 
Today the Government announced $15m from its Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and $5m from the Ministry of Arts and Culture for the building.
 
Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust, which raised funds to extend the building in 2011, has committed to assisting with additional fundraising to develop the exhibitions and other enhancements. The Trust has received a $100,000 donation from the Phillip Verry Charitable Foundation towards that.
 
Project timeline
  • November 2016: Museum closed for public safety reasons.
  • December 2016 – August 2017: Seismic assessments found building to be earthquake prone at just 19% of required National Building Standards.
  • August – December 2017: Structural options investigated and preferred option determined.
  • January – December 2018: Structural and architectural concept designs developed and all objects, artworks and taonga removed from the building.
  • January 2019 – April 2020: Resource consent granted, detailed designs to be completed, construction contract to be awarded and building consent to be approved.
  • July 2019 – April 2020: Enabling works (to prepare site for construction) and early construction phase including asbestos removal, under-floor strengthening and south wing construction.
  • April 2020 – 2022: Construction including main foyer and north wing strengthening and restoration, and exhibition design and development.
  • 2022: Rotorua Museum re-opens.
 
About the historic Bath House
 
Opened in 1908, the Bath House is the only surviving building from the first 45 years of Rotorua as a spa destination.
 
Responsibility for Rotorua, both as a spa destination and administration of the then small town, was taken over by the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts in 1901.  By late 1902 plans had been drawn up for a grand new bath house (now home to Rotorua Museum) although initial plans had to be scaled back as funding ran out.
 
By 1922 when the Government relinquished control and the town became a borough, Rotorua had grown into an important tourist destination.  In 1963 the Rotorua City Council assumed control of the Bath House and by 1966 the Health Department fully vacated the building.
 
Rotorua Museum opened in the south wing of the Bath House in 1969 and Rotorua Art Gallery opened in the north wing in 1977. Two licensed restaurants and a night-club also occupied areas of the building until 1990.  In 2011 a major extension completed the building to the original 1902 plans.
 
Today the building holds a Category 1 listing under the Historic Places Act.  Find out more about the Bath House and the museum at visiontoaction.nz/museum