Waka tours on the Avon River are set to become a new central city attraction with Ōtākaro Limited divesting the site at 794 Colombo Street to Ko Tāne, for the development of a $3.5m riverside cultural centre.
Ōtākaro Chief Executive John Bridgman says it’s an ideal site for the Ko Tāne venture given how close it is to known visitor destinations like the City Promenade, Te Pae, Victoria Square and the Town Hall.
“The City Promenade has proved a hit since we opened it in November but it’s the private developments like this that sit alongside it, that will make it a true asset for Christchurch.”
Ko Tāne has been providing interactive wildlife and Māori cultural experiences to local and international visitors for the past 13 years at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Ko Tāne Director, David Brennan, says the design of the 250m2 Puari Village is inspired by a voyaging waka and will feature exhibitions, art and contemporary Māori cuisine, and be the base for city and waka tours.
Fellow Ko Tāne Director, Mark Willis, says work on Puari Village will start around the middle of 2019 with the aim of opening it late in 2020. “With new spaces opening all the time and Te Pae and the Town Hall on the horizon, it’s a great time to be bringing the Ko Tāne experience into the central city. “We can’t wait to get our paddles in the water.”
As we head into Christmas let me give you a few numbers on Ōtākaro’s projects that help illustrate how far we have come in Christchurch’s regeneration this year – 29,000 plants and 600,000 thousand pavers make up the City Promenade that now lines the Avon River; 97,000 hours went into repairing, widening and reprioritising Manchester Street for buses; 15,000 cubic metres of concrete and 1,450 tonnes of steel are taking shape as Te Pae, the city’s new convention centre, which is now 25 percent complete.
A more significant measure of progress may be considering the spaces we can once again use. In February the former site of the CTV building was reopened as a green space for peaceful reflection, as desired by the affected families. Victoria Square emerged from a 13-month restoration in March and the determination to retain its iconic character has recently been recognised with a Civic Trust award. The Bowker Fountain is back to its fully illuminated former glory, and the paths levelled and widened to make the area safer, more accessible and ready for the likes of Carols by Candlelight.
In October we opened the fourth and final gathering space in the South Frame – Kahikatea Common – complete with native plants, seating and the central city’s first butterfly enclosure. It feels like a year that has gone faster than Santa down a chimney and I hope you have noticed the changes. All the best for the holiday season and I look forward to updating you on what lies ahead for Ōtākaro in the New Year.