Downtown Rotorua: Taking a stand and making a change


Economic developments and population changes may not have been kind to the main Rotorua business and retail area over recent years but go there now and you’ll see that they are fighting back.  Who are they?  Looks like some hardworking members of the local business community, the local Council and some of the local corporate organisations.   In particular the Rotorua Daily Post  of 29 April 2014 at page 3 , refers to “ Rotorua’s Inner City Focus Group (and its) chairman Mike Steiner…”

Yarn bomb at the Arts Village, Rotorua.  Photo:Emma Frederickson

Yarn bomb at the Arts Village, Rotorua. Photo:Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Pou and Carving, Rotorua. Photo: Supplied

ARTbop’s first stop on leaving the Rotorua Museum and Government Gardens is to the Arts Village. There’s parking available; there are ordered and maintained gardens along paths to the entryway.  Right outside the Arts Village building is a huge yarn bombed, multi-coloured, highly decorated tree – a superb example of guerrilla everything fibre and creative.  Take a look at the image captured by Emma Frederickson of ARTbop.   ARTbop weren’t the only ones collecting images of this tree –  young overseas visitors were busily recording its beauty.

The Arts Village is a large and well presented arts hub.  It has the distinct advantage of its location between the Museum and the retail area.   It has workshop areas and there was a children’s holiday programme running here as well – Abstract collage, mosaic; Monster Sewing for girls and boys “sew a charming monster”; Drums+Origami+Manga; Print Your World; Plastic Chihuly (a group project creating a plastic sculpture for The Arts Village entrance Atrium); Sculpt Poly Clay; Light+Camera=Magic; Make it Mexican (make yummy Horchatas & tacos). There’s also an ad for making music with The Travelling Tuataras.

A large crowded notice board opposite a reception and office area contained abundant information about artists, events, workshop and tuturoing opportunities.   There is a modest art and art craft shop where ARTbop meets local artist Michael Staite  whose work is displayed for sale.     The shop is open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm

The Arts Village is at 1240 Hinemaru Street.  Telephone 07 348 9008

Into the heart of downtown Rotorua and the first thing ARTbop notices is the excellent streetside garden area displays of large local rocks, foliage and dominating pou and carving.  These are also part of the deliberate upgrading and upscaling of appearance that is being undertaken within this area.    We  see  large and newly completed wall art – the pink and white terraces completely covering the side of one of the buildings.  Again part of an ongoing project. Page 3 of the Rotorua Daily Post (above) features this mural and an article about artists Jacob Chrisohoou and Jonny4higher.  Jacob Christohoou says “…that’s one of the great things about art, its ability bring energy to an area.”

We check out  the well presented Elim Gallery and its associated neighbouring craft and homewares boutique; artist Kristian Lomath’s local artists’ focussed gallery Art Expo and PORTICO gallery a long standing framing and art craft boutique recently moved into new and perfectly presented premises.   The focus at Portico is New Zealand made and there are numerous examples of beautifully crafted items which Portico owner Cheri Hayes says are sought after as gifts by locals as well as visitors

We go into Zippys cafe for afternoon tea.  The art of  Ross Dunn is displayed for sale on the walls around the booths and  he’s also responsible for the creation of the quirky art covered toilet doors.

While we’re walking we also see evidence of the Rotorua project – Window Dressing – improving the appearance of vacant retail spaces.     Much later I hear of another innovative project “Scrub Day” – landlords are encourged to get out there and clean up the street frontages of their vacant buildings.    

We tell them ARTbop will be back – and we will and not just because of the free two hour parking .  Rotorua, like Whakatane is unbelievably close to and accessible from Tauranga.  It was a regular holiday destination for my young family because of the diversity of activities available.  It’s going to be a reglar destination for ARTbop because of the creative opportunities available and the efforts being made by the business community to turn the town centre around.   We’ve asked the Arts Village to keep us updated about arts and arts information around  Rotorua and we’ll be sharing that with you.



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