Rotorua Primary School pupils had a first-hand look at the progress being made on Rotorua's Lakefront Redevelopment yesterday.

The school visit was part of an engagement programme aimed at providing localised learning opportunities and including the children in the project's journey.

Rotorua Lakes Council sport, recreation and environment manager Rob Pitkethley said the project was "about halfway through".

He said the redevelopment was about a month behind the original schedule, but that could almost entirely be put down to Covid-19 and the lockdown.

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"A lot of the preparation work has been done for the boardwalk going in - getting the ground stabilised to accept the loading from the boardwalk. It's making sure the ground is good and solid, it's a lake bed so there has been quite a lot of work done to ensure the boardwalk will be there for a long time without any trouble.

Rotorua Primary School children visit the Lakefront Redevelopment Project. Photo / Andrew Warner
Rotorua Primary School children visit the Lakefront Redevelopment Project. Photo / Andrew Warner

"The other key pieces of work is they're just starting off with the terracing, the way that the lakefront is going to actually meet the water, and the lake walls. The construction of the main concrete works has been going the last couple of months.

"Stage one, the lakefront area, is likely to run through until about May. Overall, we're pretty comfortable with how things are going."

Construction of the entire lakefront development is being completed in stages to ensure parts of the lakefront reserve are always accessible.

Construction of the new playground is also under way and in about a month the conversion of Memorial Drive to a plaza carpark will begin.

"At the moment there are three contracts going on. We have HEB [Construction Limited] doing the lakefront. We have Campbell [Contracting] doing the playground and we have Waiotahi [Contractors] down the far end doing the service relocation and getting ready for the big new playground.

"Probably the next big step that people will see is the work on Memorial Drive, which will be closed as it is turned into a wider plaza, parking area. It's a busy site and it's all happening at once so there's lots of disruption but we're getting the job done."

Rotorua Lakes Council sport, recreation and environment manager Rob Pitkethley. Photo / Andrew Warner
Rotorua Lakes Council sport, recreation and environment manager Rob Pitkethley. Photo / Andrew Warner

The Rotorua Primary School pupils were split into groups and taken to look at various sections of the redevelopment.

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One of the teachers, Kath Mason, said the engagement programme with the school was a "wonderful" opportunity for the tamariki.

"They're the right age, Year 5 and 6, so they'll still be at school when this is complete. I was a girl here in the 50s and it's so cool to be here with children in 2020 and seeing this development.

"If you understand what you saw as a child, it makes sense when you're older."

She said the children, understandably, were most interested in the new playground but were also taking an interest in the way the project was progressing and the environmental factors.

"This term was conservation term for us. Our delivery of the curriculum is through the umbrella of te ao Māori. It's important for them to understand because this place is very special to their whānau and it has history."

Stages of the Lakefront Redevelopment Project:

(Not necessarily being completed in order)

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Stage 1:

Upgrade of main lakefront walkway, boardwalk and terracing.

Stage 2: New playground, upgrade of existing playground and new toilet block.

Stage 2a: Upgrade of streetscape along Tūtānekai St including parking, a widened footpath, and veranda walkway.

Stage 3: Grass terracing, cycle and walkway.

Stage 3a: Main open space area and terracing around new commercial development.

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Stage 4: New Memorial Plaza carpark.

Stage 5: Upgrade of area west of the lakefront.

The Lakefront Redevelopment Project is being completed in stages. Photo / Rotorua Lakes Council
The Lakefront Redevelopment Project is being completed in stages. Photo / Rotorua Lakes Council