A $300,000 makeover of Kuirau Park's old thermal foot pools will get under way in March.

Rotorua Lakes Council has approved a concept design for a new architecturally designed shelter over one of the park's two thermal foot pools - part of a wider project to redevelop the pools and their surrounds.

The new project, called Te Waimirimiri o Te Kuirau, "focuses on creating a new family-friendly relaxation and recreation hub that is expected to become popular for both visitors and locals", a council press release stated.

The name describes the combination of water, relaxation and massaging waters associated with geothermal bathing.

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Designed by Fred Stevens of Rotorua firm Architecture Aotearoa, the concept takes a modern twist on traditional Maori design, and integrates the use of local wood, in line with the council's Wood First Policy.

Mr Stevens described his design as a contemporary expression of traditional Maori building forms and philosophies.

"It results in an architecture that responds directly to the uniqueness of Aotearoa New Zealand and is appropriate within its Kuirau Park setting," he said.

Redevelopment of Kuirau Park's twin thermal foot pools and cold water paddling pool is part of a wider council programme to progressively upgrade the park.

Work will involve removal of the existing cold water paddling pool, foot pool shelter and paving in March, with construction work starting in April.

Leading into the redeveloped pools will be a series of stylised waharoa (entrance ways) along with public seating, a covered barbecue and picnic tables. Landscaping will include native plants and large rock features, in keeping with the park's geothermal theme.

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Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the project was an exciting initiative for helping revitalise and upgrade the park.

"The foot pools area of Kuirau Park had become somewhat dated and under-utilised over recent years, but these new features have the real potential to become iconic and uniquely Rotorua attractions for our community and visitors to enjoy.

"I've been really encouraged by the growing use of the park in recent times, especially since the Green Corridor and boulevard gardens developments, and upgrading of other facilities," Mrs Chadwick said.

Footbath makeover:

* Kuirau Park thermal foot pools upgrade

* $300,000 budget

* Work set to start in March

* Will be called Te Waimirimiri o Te Kuirau

* Designed and built in Rotorua