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Rafting centre gets the green light

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014
rafting concept

DREAM IMAGE: An artist’s impression of the revised concept design.

Richard Jeffery
Scott Morgan
‘‘VERY GRATEFUL’’: Counties Manukau Pacific Trust chief executive Richard Jeffery is thrilled the Wero project is going ahead.

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Earthworks for the controversial $32 million whitewater rafting centre at the Vodafone Events Centre will start next month.

The facility, in the heart of Manukau, has been given the green light by the sale of public land at nearby 834 Great South Rd and 10 Pacific Events Centre Drive.

Bedmaker Sleepyhead will use the two sites, which total 9.2ha, for a new $45m manufacturing, warehouse and distribution centre.

And council-controlled organisation Regional Facilities Auckland has promised the money raised through the sale of the land - more than $20m - to the Wero whitewater rafting project.

"We are very happy with what is a great outcome for Manukau and Auckland," a spokesperson from the organisation says.

Counties Manukau Pacific Trust chief executive Richard Jeffery says the land sale was "the major milestone" the project had to pass before building the whitewater rafting centre could proceed.

The trust is now busy raising the remaining $12m it needs, with the money coming from philanthropic trusts and corporate sponsorship.

Fundraising attempts have been "very successful" so far, Mr Jeffery says.

The trust previously raised $29m to build the Vodafone Events Centre so he's confident the target can be reached.

Construction on the whitewater rafting centre will begin at the end of the year and it's hoped it will be open by the end of 2015.

"We definitely want to have it open for the World Master's Games in 2017, which is the largest multisport event in the world," Mr Jeffery says.

The former Manukau City Council granted the project a 10-year resource consent just before the Auckland super-city was formed.

A revised concept design has just been completed and the centre is now planned to have two whitewater rafting courses - one for recreational rafting and international kayaking events and one for use by school groups. An art gallery, cafe and classroom spaces are also planned.

The trust's business plan shows it will be able to admit 15,000 students every year, Mr Jeffery says.

Counties Manukau Sport will provide a $100,000 annual grant to subsidise entry fees for children from South Auckland.

Mr Jeffery says the trust is "very grateful" for the support it's received from the area's local boards and from the community as a whole.

"The timing's fantastic to get the project underway just before the economy bounces back."

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- Manukau Courier

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