A collaboration between council and iwi is being heralded as a unique outcome to end a long-running search for a new building.
In a first for Aotearoa, Taupō District Council and Ngāti Tūwharetoa are planning on sharing space in a new civic administration building.
Taupō District Council staff are currently housed across eight separate leased offices and Ngāti Tūwharetoa entities are also across multiple sites.
On December 17, the council and Ngāti Tūwharetoa joint venture Te Whare Hono o Tūwharetoa Lt Partnership (TWHOT) announced they are working together to develop a building which the council will lease and TWHOT will occupy 1.5 floors.
Te Whare o Tūwharetoa Ltd Partnership is a body representing Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board, Lake Taupō Forest Trust, Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust, Ngāti Tūwharetoa Fisheries Charitable Trust.
Under the proposed arrangement, TWHOT would buy the former Taupō RSA site at 67 Horomatangi St from the Taupō District Council, construct a civic administration building, then lease the majority of the building back to council.
There will be co-tenancy space in the building for the Ngāti Tūwharetoa entities, the Waikato Regional Council, Amplify, Destination Great Lake Taupō, and Town Centre Taupō.
A procurement process is yet to be worked through, and construction of the three-storey building is expected to begin in early 2023, with the building ready to occupy in mid-2024.
TWHOT chairman Rakei Taiaroa says facilitating the "blue-chipper in town" (council) is a "wonderful" project from a commercial perspective. Three years ago, Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board put constructing a new building into their strategic plan and he said the planets were aligned when Taupō District Council called for expressions of interest in December 2020.
"Co-sharing is a good idea. We also have a lot of staff. We interact with the district and regional councils in many different echelons as custodians of the lake," he says.
The design of the building will reflect the iwi's "meat and spuds" type enterprises: farming, forestry, the recreational fishery, and tourism.
"We want the building to be iconic, something the community can be proud of and will use."
The Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board has a considerable say in council governance within the Taupō District. In 2009, it signed an agreement with the district council regarding resource consent applications. Since 2018, the board has worked with the regional council on matters relating to Taupō waters, and after the 2018 Treaty of Waitangi settlement, they were given regional council water monitoring functions.
Taupō District Council chief executive Gareth Green says the council's investment portfolio, the TEL fund, purchased the proposed civic administration building site at 67 Horomatangi St in 2020. However, at the time, building on the carpark at 61-67 Tūwharetoa St was still the preferred option for the civic administration building.
After the October 2019 election, the new council veered away from building at Tūwharetoa St.
"This was confirmed in March 2021 when we sought feedback from the community and the overwhelming response was to lease," Gareth says.
Gareth says multiple parties expressed an interest in constructing a new civic administration building.
"The Tūwharetoa proposal was rated significantly better on all criteria."
He says TWHOT were the only ones with a co-location option and that he is "very excited" about the long-term relationship between all the entities housed together.
"Both organisations [council and iwi] are going to be around for a long time."
Gareth says five different proposals have been put out to the community in the past 12 years.
He says consistent opinions from the public have been to locate a civic administration building on the outskirts of town at County Ave or near the rubbish dump at Broadlands Rd, and that the council should keep leasing across multiple sites.
He said it was important for the vibrancy of the town for the council to be located within the CBD.
"Every large organisation wants to be housed together to build a consistent culture.
"Culture builds efficiency and a happy workforce that delivers. People work harder and there are fewer mistakes".
He says on a micro level, it is inefficient to have five different kitchens, bathrooms and the like, and to have staff wasting time walking between offices.
The proposal to share space with iwi has attracted interest from councils all over New Zealand "with the overall response being 'wow'."
Taupō District Council's journey to a new civic administration building
March 2004 -
Taupō Town Centre Structure Plan adopted. The council administration centre at 72 Lake Tce is outside the town centre boundaries.
2010 - Taupō Urban Commercial and Industrial Structure Plan moots $30 million three-storey civic administration building partly located on Tongariro North Domain. More than 6000 people sign a petition in opposition and express a desire for this part of the domain to remain building-free.
June 2010 - Council says it will scale back civil administration building plans.
April 2017 - Asbestos is discovered in the council administration building at 72 Lake Tce, built in 1968. Three months later the building is evacuated and the council leases eight commercial office spaces in Taupō town centre.
June 2018 - Tūrangi councillor Zane Cozens and Tūrangi-Tongariro community board member Sally Nelson resign in protest as they claim a double standard - the council administration building in Tūrangi also contains asbestos but was repaired.
June 2018 - Government announces provincial growth fund (PGF). Cultural projects qualify and to access the PGF, the council floats the idea of combining a new civic administration building with a museum and art gallery.
August 2018 - Architects Warren and Mahoney and landscape architects Boffa Miskell present a Taupō Cultural Precinct Master Plan with a proposed joint museum and civic administration building in Tongariro South Domain.
October 2018 - The Taupō Returned Services Association (RSA) has become insolvent and the Returned Services Trust Taupō announces it has sold the Taupō RSA land and buildings at 67 Horomatangi St to Cooper Family Investments.
December 2018 - Former Taupō mayor and businessman Rick Cooper offers to build a civic administration building at 67 Horomatangi St and lease it back to the council.
April 2019 - The council starts consultation on four options for a civic administration centre, they are: build on the carpark at 61-67 Tūwharetoa St, rebuild on previous council building site at 72 Lake Tce, build on Tongariro South Domain as part of a cultural precinct project, or to lease a building.
June 2019 - The council puts aside $37.5 million to build new civic administration building at carpark site 61-67 Tūwharetoa St.
October 2019 - Local government elections. Council CEO Gareth Green says the new council goes off the idea of building on the Tūwharetoa St carpark.
January 2020 - The council's investment arm buys former RSA site at 67 Horomatangi St with the TEL fund.
December 2020 - The council calls for expressions of interest for a third party to build a civic administration building for staff.
January 2021 - The council sells 72 Lake Tce saying the buyer will build a 4-star hotel. Settlement date is late in 2022 and the price will be revealed at settlement.
March 2021 - The council seeks feedback from the community on whether to build or lease a building for staff.
December 2021 - The council says it's going to sell 67 Horomatangi St to Ngāti Tūwharetoa entity who will build and co-tenant civic administration building.