Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa Rotorua Museum director Lizzie Marvelly says the earthquake strengthening project on the museum is "the most challenging" in the country.
Marvelly, who took on the directorship of the closed museum in July, made the comments at an Evolve Rotorua event on opportunities and changes on Tuesday evening.
The museum was closed in late 2016 after a seismic assessment of the building showed it fell well below earthquake safety standards.
In April this year Rotorua Lakes Council, which is in charge of the museum, revised the reopening date from 2022 to 2025 due to issues that came to light in the pre-construction phase of the redevelopment.
On Tuesday, Marvelly said now much of the inside of the museum had been stripped "you really get a sense of the major challenges".
"Nothing is as it was. There are walls that have been partially deconstructed, floors have been lifted, pools have been excavated, lifts have been taken out. Every single taonga that was in the building is no longer in the building.
"You can quite clearly see the cracking in the building.
"There are certain parts of the building you absolutely, definitely would not want to be in there if there was an earthquake."
She said the building was made with pumice concrete and what little steel had been in the building had corroded from the geothermal elements in the area.
"The structural engineers we've spoken to have classed this as the most challenging earthquake strengthening project in the country at the moment."
She said the ground conditions were never stable but "constantly changing" and it was part of the biggest challenge of the project.
"You imagine a concrete base with something really really hot underneath it, then walls and a roof, you've basically just created a pizza oven."
She said because of this the aim was to adequately control the ground conditions so the building could be secure on top.
"It's a very, very complex project.
"If you were going to choose a location to build a museum, it wouldn't be where it is."
Marvelly said the rescheduled opening date of 2025 had "largely been caused by … those geotechnical further investigations that have to take place, to inform the structural solution".
However, Marvelly was not deterred by the challenges, saying an opportunity to completely redevelop a museum was rare.
"We want to empower our people, we want to welcome our visitors, connect with the past and we want to inspire the future."
To date, the restoration of the museum has secured $51.1 million in funding, including $35m from the government and $5m from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund.
Prior to its closure, the museum attracted 100,000 visitors a year.
Rotorua Lakes Council performing arts director Cian Elyse White also spoke at the event.
She said she knew a lot of the community were "just so desperate" to see the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre reopen, a feeling she and her team shared.
"We have almost identical issues to the museum.
"There are a lot of issues, specifically around asbestos. It's not something you can foresee unless you take the layers of a building off.
"We have identified quite significant cracks in the facade in both of the heritage wings."
She said the council had undergone a "sturdy consultation process" around the redevelopment of the centre and feedback indicated a desire for investment in the building.
"However, the cost to do that is just unknown until you take the layers off … that's why we are delayed, we're hoping to open mid next year."
She said programming for the theatre was difficult because often shows which might have been available one year were no longer available the next.
She had created about three draft programmes for the theatre which had to be scrapped.
White said the performing arts team was also working on Aronui, the indigenous arts festival, which in 2021 would be between September 9 and 19.
The use of the Pacific Crystal Palace - a pop-up venue - had been secured for the festival and would be located on the village green.
White said the programme for Aronui would be announced during Matariki. It was one of about five major events her team of three was working on.
Evolve Drinks, a free monthly event, had been on hiatus and was held at Level 13 Theme Rooms on Eruera St.
Spokesman Ben Sandford said the group was about seeking positive ideas, projects and policies to move Rotorua forward.
Industries 'ripe' for change
Scion marketing and partnerships general manager Arron Judson also spoke at the meeting on the ways economies can rapidly adapt to disruption, and identified three main industries "ripe" for change - energy, food and plastics.
He said he believed energy, particularly renewable energy such as solar power, was changing rapidly with the cost of solar energy dropping significantly since 2010.
Judson proffered if energy was the next thing to be available in abundance, as internet data was now, there could be similar set monthly costs for unlimited power.
In the food industry, the cost of synthetic biology - lab grown meat - had dropped from more than $2 million a kilo around 2013 to $80 a kilo in 2017.
He said there was a soft plastics problem as soft plastics had no value once used as hard plastics could.
There was an economic and environmental opportunity then for innovators to "design the problem out" rather than attempting to find solutions for the end problem.