Northland Regional Council forks out for Opononi Kupe centre

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Northland Regional Council has announced they will make a $500,000 contribution to a planned $8mil plus cultural centre at Opononi.

The ‘Manea Footprints of Kupe’ project is the brainchild of Te Hua o te Kawariki Trust and would see a cultural heritage tourism and education centre built to celebrate the journeys of the legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe.

Justin Blaikie, who represents the NRC’s Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency, says Manea will tell the stories of Kupe using a combination of guided tours, 4D interactive performances and technology stations, all complemented by taonga repatriated from museums.

“As a local councillor, I’m absolutely thrilled that we’re able to make this contribution from our Investment and Growth Reserve to a project expected to have positive economic benefits for the Hokianga area and complement existing attractions like the Footprints Waipoua sightseeing tour,” says Blakie.

Tens of thousands of predicted visitors to the project – which has already secured $4.6mil of funding from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) – are expected to provide an annual economic boost of about $5.5mil, with the total economic impact from construction estimated at about $12mil.

Councillor Blaikie says profits not required for operational or capital requirements of the business will be returned to the trust for community charitable purposes, which would be another win for the local community and local tangata whenua in particular.

“Under the trust deed, this includes any purpose which promotes the educational, spiritual, economic, social or cultural advancement of iwi and hapu in the Hokianga, including the provision of facilities or is otherwise for the benefit of communities in the Hokianga.”