A $4 million cultural centre telling the story of Mauao is planned to be built on Coronation Park next to the Port of Tauranga in order to cash in on the booming cruise ship market.
Property investor Dr Randall Douglas and financial analyst Maia Ririnui, both from Mount Maunganui, unveiled the concept to the Tauranga City Council yesterday.
Mr Ririnui said the cultural centre would offer a high-tech cultural experience of an international standard.
They promised an "iconic" design based on a traditional Maori wharenui (meeting house) but with a contemporary interior. It would face Salisbury Ave and be built on the site of the former i-Site, with parking space behind.
The cultural centre would be owned by a charitable trust and funded by public grants of $3 million, private grants of $500,000 and $500,000 in loans.
The key to its financial viability was that it needed to attract 5 per cent of cruise ship passengers, growing to 10 per cent by year five of opening.
"It is heavily dependent on cruise ships," Dr Douglas said.
The other key assumption was that it would attract one in every thousand international tourists to the Bay and five in every thousand domestic visitors. Admission would be $25 and if everything went according to plan it would be making a $17,000 profit after two years.
The promoters asked the council to support the concept and offer guidance through the resource consent process, culminating with the trust leasing the site.
They said it would be "culturally inclusive".
Councillor Larry Baldock said Tauranga was screaming for something like this but he questioned why iwi representatives had not accompanied Dr Douglas and Mr Ririnui.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said that if the cultural centre was to tell the story of Mauao then the two men needed to be standing side by side with iwi the next time they spoke to the council. Councillor Bill Grainger said only then could the council have a discussion about whether it wanted the cultural centre on the park.
Dr Douglas, an American who has lived at the Mount for nine years, said they had spoken to leaders from two of Tauranga Moana's three iwi who were supportive and helpful.
Mr Ririnui said they were unlikely to receive official iwi backing until Treaty settlement processes had been concluded.
Ngai Te Rangi Iwi chief executive Brian Dickson was unaware of the plan when he was contacted by the Bay of Plenty Times.
"I would have thought that if they had done their homework they would have contacted us ... it is right in the middle of Ngai Te Rangi territory."
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