A multimillion-dollar proposed Kāpiti Island Gateway building and visitor centre represented an opportunity not to be missed, Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan said.

The single storey 235m² building, with decking and a new bridge over Tikotu stream, would be positioned at the northern end of Maclean Park in Paraparaumu Beach.

Kāpiti Coast District Council will meet on Thursday to consider a funding application to the Provincial Growth Fund.

Subject to an increase in costs post Covid-19, the centre is estimated to cost about $4.46 million with 50 per cent coming from the growth fund.

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The other half of the costs would be met by council.

"While we understand this will require a funding commitment from Kāpiti ratepayers, we can't afford to let this opportunity pass us by," Mr Gurunathan said.

"This is a big opportunity for Kāpiti and one that's not likely to come around again anytime soon.

"If we are successful in securing this funding it will significantly enhance the visitor landscape and create local employment opportunities through the construction phase and then ongoing for the tourism sector."

The economic revenue of the centre and Kāpiti Island tourism in year one was estimated to be $5.91m.

"This site is part of our tūrangawaewae with some extraordinary history and stories to be told and celebrated."

An artist's impression of the Kapiti Island Gateway building and visitor centre at Paraparaumu Beach.
An artist's impression of the Kapiti Island Gateway building and visitor centre at Paraparaumu Beach.

Chairman of Gateway Governance Group and former New Zealand Tourism Board chief executive, George Hickton, said, "This will be a shot in the arm for Kāpiti providing jobs, supporting the domestic tourism sector in the short-term and setting us up well in preparation for the return of international tourism once travel restrictions have been lifted."

Five local and regional architects were invited to provide design concepts for the building based on a detailed set of criteria from community consultation and input from various groups.

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Criteria used to choose the concept included taking into account the coastal environment, eco-building principles, providing an area for Kāpiti Island visitors and the tour operators, biosecurity requirements for Kāpiti Island, enhancing the ecological values of the site, and reflecting the cultural significance of the site.

The criteria also specified the need for the building to be fully relocatable and incorporate design principles that will minimise any future maintenance costs.

The selection panel that evaluated the concept consisted of the project governance group comprising of representatives from Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa, Department of Conservation, council and independent chairman Mr Hickton plus two independent architects.

The governance group also received advice from specialists on resource consenting, park integration and biosecurity.

"The concept from Athfield Architects was selected because it best met the criteria," Mr Hickton said.

Council place and space acting group manager Alison Law said, "It's important that this building works for our community and if we are successful in securing funding, further refinements will be made through the detailed design process in consultation with iwi, key stakeholders and community representatives."

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Council had secured an agreement with the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club for 30 car parks for visitors to the island to use.

The new parking area would compensate for the 17 car parks that would need to be removed from the existing carpark on the south side of Tikotu stream to make way for the centre.

Subject to council approval, the Provincial Growth Fund application would be lodged at the end of May/early June.