Plans to make the National Aquarium an unforgettable experience have been unveiled with support of Weta Workshop and Air New Zealand.

Yesterday, the Napier City Council shared further details of it's plan to expand the aquarium on Marine Parade in Napier which is thought to generate jobs, grow the local economy and contribute to marine science research, education and conservation.

It's indicated the expansion will cost a total of $45m, with a $7m investment from NCC over three years and the balance sought through a mix of public and private investment.

We couldn't be more thrilled that Weta Workshop has come on board as our design partner, to create the wow factor and help us tell our stories in an innovative, original way.


Council manager of visitor experiences Sally Jackson described the overall project, earmarked to open in 2021, as "bold and visionary".


"It puts us on the map as a conservation centre of excellence and an eco-tourism destination of major significance. It's an exciting project for our city and region, and we're looking forward to the process of securing funding to make it a reality."

The expansion project is underpinned by a solid business case and the pillars of Matariki, council chief executive Wayne Jack said.

"The financial case is strong, and the conservation message will be massive."

Mr Jack said with Weta Workshop confirming its support just last week and the support of other major partners the project had the potential to "really fly"

"We couldn't be more thrilled that Weta Workshop has come on board as our design partner, to create the wow factor and help us tell our stories in an innovative, original way."

Weta Workshop founder and creative director Richard Taylor said the workshop was looking forward to developing its ideas.

"It's terrific to have the opportunity to work with the team from NCC and the National Aquarium of New Zealand on this project and we look forward to kicking off the concept design phase,

"We are excited by the prospect of finding new and unique creative experiences that connect visitors emotionally with the conservation challenges faced by our oceans and natural environments."

Along with Weta Workshop and Air New Zealand, key partners include University of Waikato, Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Hawke's Bay Tourism and local iwi.

The council began working on the National Aquarium Expansion Project in mid-2016 and received Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment MBIE funding to compile the indicative business case.

Ms Jackson said the aquarium would deliver jobs, visitors and play a major role in ocean and waterways conservation.

"Contemporary aquariums are all about education and awareness, advancing knowledge through research, encouraging a conservation mind-set and promoting environmental sustainability."

However, she said the council couldn't do it alone.

"We need our community - as well as organisations that share our vision - to support and work with us to achieve our goals. We will be partnering with world leading aquariums, scientists and local iwi to create an outstanding aquarium that is a centre of excellence for marine science research and education, benefiting all New Zealanders."

Air New Zealand manager of regional affairs Ian Collier said the airline's support of the project was a logical extension of Air New Zealand's commitment to preserving and protecting New Zealand's unique natural environment for current and future generations.

"We're right behind the project and committed to working with council and other partners in seeing it through to fruition."

University of Waikato vice chancellor professor Neil Quigley also said they were committed to supporting New Zealand's sustainable future.

"As a partner in the Aquarium's expansion, we see this as an exciting opportunity to further that research and teaching in a facility which reflects and enhances that intent."

The indicative business case will be formally considered by the Napier City Council at the end of the month.

If supported by councillors, it will then be presented to Government for funding consideration and the business case will be further developed.

"We are in a unique position as a council, in that Napier's aquarium is also our country's National Aquarium," Mr Dalton said.

"It's already a fantastic facility for our community and for those visiting Hawke's Bay, but we're now on a mission to create an absolutely extraordinary experience so that people coming to New Zealand will not be able to leave the country without spending time at our Aquarium."