Queenstown Lakes District Council’s (QLDC) elected members have this week approved entry into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ngāi Tahu Property to explore development options on a Queenstown CBD site.
Ngāi Tahu Property has expressed an interest in collaborating with QLDC on the development of the site recently identified in the 2018-2028 Ten Year Plan as a potential “Community Heart”.
QLDC Chief Executive Mike Theelen says the Council had highlighted the option of considering a Joint Venture for the delivery of Council office accommodation (Project Connect) based on the site on Stanley and Ballarat streets.
“Council has confirmed its commitment to a strong presence in the heart of the town and the Mayor and Council have asked that a partnership approach be explored particularly with a view to making the proposition more affordable. If successful, a joint venture such as this has the potential to deliver a new Council office at a much-reduced ratepayer cost,” said Mr Theelen.
“High-level discussions between QLDC and Ngāi Tahu Property have helped build a better understanding of each other’s development intentions and how a partnership approach might work. To give more structure and direction to these discussions both organisations have negotiated an MOU to guide further discussion.”
Ngāi Tahu Iwi has a strong interest in the cultural, commercial and creative possibilities for the site which has been largely underutilised since the 1970s. The Ngāi Tahu Property vision for the site includes modern performing and visual arts and cultural facilities, some commercial component, as well as the QLDC-proposed Council office, Library and carparking.
Ngāi Tahu Property Chief Executive David Kennedy said Ngāi Tahu Property welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with Queenstown Lakes District Council and the community.
“Signing a memorandum of understanding is an excellent representation of that intent and a modern reflection of iwi and local government partnership. We look forward to working with the Council through the feasibility stage for the site which has the potential to be the cultural and civic heart for the Queenstown Lakes District.”
Matapura Ellison, Deputy Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, said Ngāi Tahu and the Papatipu Rūnanga are very excited about the development of this relationship with Council.
“We see significant potential for Ngāi Tahu to add greater authenticity to the culture and history of Queenstown’s town centre. Ngāi Tahu has a long history in this region from before Pākehā/European arrival through to the significant investments made in recent decades.”
“These include Ngāi Tahu Property’s development of the Post Office Precinct and Queenstown District Court, Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s operations in the area including the Shotover Jet and through Ngāi Tahu Farming.”
QLDC Mayor Jim Boult said that this was an exciting and positive development for both parties and has the potential to offer valuable, contemporary facilities for the community and visitors to the district.
“Together QLDC and Ngāi Tahu have the opportunity to deliver facilities for arts and performance activities and authentic iwi cultural representation in central Tāhuna Queenstown, and that aligns perfectly with the work Council is undertaking in developing a Cultural Masterplan. Fresh, modern commercial premises will hopefully also be a draw card for new and diverse businesses into the area,” said Mayor Boult.
Mayor Boult also suggested that the site presented an opportunity for a replacement to the existing Memorial Hall, should that be required as a result of the arterial route work.
Council consulted on and included funding in the 2018-2028 Ten Year Plan for Project Connect, a Memorial Hall replacement and a car park.
Council considered the proposed MOU during a Public Excluded agenda item at the Full Council meeting on Thursday 25 October. As QLDC and Ngāi Tahu Property begin commercial negotiations, neither party will be making any further comment until the outcome of those discussions are reported to their respective boards.