Paraparaumu Beach looking back from Kāpiti Island. Photo by Karl Webber.
An updated feasibility investigation released recently by the Kāpiti Coast District Council on building a Kāpiti Gateway Centre at Paraparaumu Beach has provided the necessary direction for the project to progress to a business case.
The feasibility study, which involved extensive engagement with iwi, Department of Conservation and the local community, recommends a small new build south of the Tikotu stream in Maclean Park for the site of the Gateway Centre.
"After 28 years of community conversation, reports and analysis, I am delighted to see the Kāpiti Gateway Centre begin to take shape in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders," says Kāpiti Coast District Mayor K Gurunathan.
"Kāpiti Island is an internationally famed nature reserve protecting some of New Zealand's most endangered birds and is one of the few relatively accessible island nature reserves in the country.
"With visitation currently at only 25% of annual capacity there is significant opportunities to grow this with better promotion and improved visitor experience while also supporting more robust biosecurity measures to protect and preserve our district's most valuable taonga."
The study recommends that the Centre act as a visitor facility to deliver improved biosecurity functions for Kāpiti Island, provide space for current and future commercial island tour operators, and help promote other Kāpiti Coast attractions.
"Kāpiti Island is an absolute icon for conservation in New Zealand. It is a sanctuary for many native species that are either very rare or absent from the mainland - including the little spotted kiwi which would have gone extinct if they hadn't been translocated there a century ago. It's a place every New Zealander should experience. A dedicated Gateway Centre would allow for more locals and tourists to connect to the island, and help us to manage threats like disease and introduced pests," says Jack Mace, Department of Conservation Operations Manager.
Funding for the development and construction of the Centre has been flagged in the Toitū Kāpiti Long Term Plan 2018-38 and will also be sought from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
In order for the project to have the greatest chance of success in securing funding from the PGF, an application, business case and resource consent documentation must be submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment by May 2020.
"To meet this deadline, we need to work collaboratively and at pace with our partners and our stakeholders," says Mayor Gurunathan.
"To support this, we have established an independent Governance Group with representatives from Ngāti Toa, Te Āti Awa and the Department of Conservation to expedite decision-making.
"A separate project Advisory Group has also been created to ensure that the voice of our community is front and centre on the recommend options, and to give advice and feedback. A wide range of stakeholders have been invited to participate in the Advisory Group including the Kāpiti Boat Club, Kāpiti Island concessionaires and the business community."