The Historic Village – does it have a future?


The sale of the Historic Village site could be on the horizon says the Council’s Consultation Document for the Long Term Plan 2015 – 2025

Page 16 states: “ We are currently assessing what work the Historic Village buildings would need in the future to fully comply with earthquake and fire rules. This will help determine the level of investment required for the facility. The findings may impact on future options for the Historic Village when taking into account the extent of ongoing investment, the balance between commercial and community use and the suitability of the current location and site. This could potentially result in a proposal for the sale of the site. Before we make any major decisions about the future of the Historic Village we will ask the community what you think. This is likely to happen in early 2016.”

My submission to this section of the Consultation Document said:

“The inference from the consultation document statement is that the Historic Village complex will be sold because the physical state of many of the structures within it require investment to bring them up to contemporary fire and earthquake standards.

The Historic Village complex currently contains a somewhat inappropriate mix of community support group offices, art and creative businesses and creative organisations. As an entity it therefore lacks a single identity and focus of purpose. There are a number of halls and theatres in the complex and the overall layout of the Village makes it ideal as a summertime community event centre; the recent Too Good to Toss (recycled clothing event) Multi-Cultural Festival and Jazz Festival event being examples of that.

Like the nearby Pukehinahina – Gate Pa site the Historic Village complex of re-sited buildings offers mid-town Tauranga significant tourism potential. The anticipated potential of this complex as a community facility, tourist and arts destination has never been maximised. The complex has also been physically squeezed by the adjacent inappropriate development of a business park and now I am told a proposed University complex.

That the complex (the Historic Village) offers significant potential is clearly shown by the success of the Cargo Shed, on Dive Crescent. This old corrugated iron building was the butt of jokes by Councillors and regarded as demolition material. Look at it now both in structural, operational and tourist terms.

The Council should also have regard to the apparently changing demographic of the surrounding residential areas. As many of the older residents die or leave for supported living and care, houses in the mid-Avenues, through Gate Pa and Greerton are being purchased by younger families, renovated and communities being revitalized. The Historic Village therefore provides the possibility of a partly developed local cultural facility.

The Historic Village also presents a unique opportunity to expand the cultural and tourism opportunities for Tauranga. Confining cultural and tourism investment and social and cultural opportunities to only the waterfront fringe in the coming years of development of urban Tauranga will be seen as a mistake, a missed opportunity and incredibly shortsighted.

I am a regular visitor to the Historic Village. I am aware of its basic structures and composition. I have started to use a boutique hairdresser in the Village. Through my online arts magazine ARTbop I have regular contact with The Incubator Collective and have recently used that building for a launch function for a new magazine section. This year I visited the Multi-Cultural Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Bethlehem Lions Market at the Village and the Public Art Talk given by Mark Spijkerbosch held at the Incubator. (I attach a copy of (a) my report about the ARTbop function at The Incubator this is not attached to this online article) (b) I refer to my on-line article about the Tauranga Public Art Talks.

As a regular visitor to the Village it is clear that the issue of vehicle parking needs addressing on an urgent basis. The need for parking associated with the Tauranga Hospital, the Village and the adjacent business uses suggests a parking building is constructed in this vicinity. I refer to a recent online article I wrote about parking when I visited the Multi-Cultural Festival, “Dead by Lunchtime.”

Before making any decision on the future of the Historic Village based solely on the fire and earthquake requirements my submission would be that the Council obtain information about the operation (and potential) of similar facilities in other parts of New Zealand (Timaru’s historic quarter; Dunedin’s refurbishment of the Octagon, the revitalization of Auckland’s Parnell and Ponsonby) and create a comprehensive development plan for the Historic Village.”

The introductory page of the Consultation Document says : “Give us your views on our proposals and tell us your preferred options for your city.” The operative word there is “OUR”. These are the proposals of Council staff and Councillors not necessarily the Community about “YOUR CITY”. Start thinking and talking about this now.

Rosemary Balu Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Editor of ARTbop.


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