When the $40 million Rotorua Lakefront development is finished, those who didn't like the idea will say "oh my golly" how did we ever say this wasn't going to be an iconic project?''

Those are the words of newly elected mayor Steve Chadwick who spoke at the official blessing of the Rotorua Lakefront development this morning.

About 60 people gathered for the blessing on the shores of Lake Rotorua in front of Te Arawa waka on Oruawhata Dr.

Kaumatua Monty Morrison welcomed everyone on behalf of Ngāti Whakaue and newly appointed Kaitiaki Ahurea Māori for Rotorua Lakes Council Arapeta Tahana, led proceedings.

The blessing was led by Rangitihi Pene.

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Guests then went to the Rotorua Lakes Council building for official speeches were Chadwick said the Lakefront project was made possible only because everyone had come together for the betterment of Rotorua.

Kaumatua Monty Morrison welcomes those to the Lakefront blessing on behalf of Ngāti Whakaue. Photo / Stephen Parker
Kaumatua Monty Morrison welcomes those to the Lakefront blessing on behalf of Ngāti Whakaue. Photo / Stephen Parker

"This will be a lakefront that will be iconic and will sit on the world stage in terms of Lakefront developments."

Pukeroa Oruawhata general manager Peter Faulkner touched on what the new-look Lakefront would mean to his trust's neighbouring developments, which includes the Wai Ariki Spa in partnership with QE Health and other yet-to-be announced developments on its land.

"It is a great opportunity to see the Lakefront coming out of the 1960s, 70s and 80s into this decade. When you look at the city of Rotorua we have developed despite of the lake rather than because of it and now we are in an opportunity where we can take pride in what is a truly fantastic asset."

He said it would all add to the depth of attractions and give another reason to come to Rotorua.

"Looking out to the Bathhouse what we are looking at is taking a brave step back to the 1880s when the original vision for the city was to be the spa capital of the Southern Hemisphere, so that is the route we are looking to progress on our site to provide a true point of difference for the city."

The Lakefront development is a $40m project that is evenly jointly funded by the council and the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.

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The first section of work on the development will involve the construction of a boardwalk and terracing around the lake edge.

Newly elected deputy mayor Dave Donaldson noted the massive projects under way in Rotorua, including the Lakefront, museum and Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre redevelopments, forest development and waste water treatment development.

He said all the work equated to $147m worth of investment and 57 per cent of it had been funded by partners others than the council.

Karakia at site of Lakefront development. Photo / Stephen Parker
Karakia at site of Lakefront development. Photo / Stephen Parker

"It could not be done without partnership funding. That is a reason to be extremely positive and optimistic about the future of Rotorua."

New Zealand First MP and Provincial Growth Fund deputy Fletcher Tabuteau said the start of the development was something to celebrate.

"This is a beautiful city with beautiful people in it and a morning like this just highlights what we can do when we do work together. For me this is an amazing day."

Council strategy manager Jean Paul Gaston said it would work closely with operators to ensure the Lakefront would still be operational as much as possible while construction was under way.

Volcanic Air Safaris company director and chief pilot Tim Barrow, whose 27-year-old company operated on the shores of Lake Rotorua, said the business was excited.

"We see it as an opportunity to show the region off from an iconic location. Our visitors are all about the landscape and the scenery so to be able to depart and return from a beautiful location will enhance the visitor experience."