Councillors in favour of Rangimarie Arts and Crafts Centre moving into Marfell
There are high hopes for a Maori arts and crafts training centre to become the cultural hub for a New Plymouth community.
The Rangimarie Arts and Crafts Centre, which teaches traditional weaving and bone and wood carving, is looking to relocate to Marfell Park and community groups in the area have offered their full support.
The centre previously leased a site on Centennial Drive through the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), but Port Taranaki bought the land in 2013 and the group has been looking for a new site since 2014.
At Tuesday's NPDC planning committee meeting, councillors voted in favour of recommending the centre be granted a 30 year lease for Marfell Park.
The decision still has to go before the full council but councillor Harry Duynhoven said the centre would be a welcome addition to the Marfell community.
"I think it's a very good thing to be relocating there, in an area which could do with a boost and could do with some pride - and this is certainly an institution which will generate that," Duynhoven said.
The centre's chairperson, Maryjane Waru, said they hoped it would act as a hub of learning and history for the community.
"Marfell Park used to be a hive of activity prior to the departure of the BMX club. We aim to bring back that activity through the sharing of Maori Art in the community," she said.
"Rangimarie offers an art centre where the community are able to participate in promoting, preserving and reviving traditional maori arts and crafts within Aotearoa."
Marfell Park was the ideal location for the centre because maori art could work in to create a more supportive and inclusive community spirit, Waru said.
In a report to the committee, key community groups including Marfell Community School, the Marfell Community Trust, Together Grow Better Communities Trust (TGBCT) and Bishops Action Foundation all said the centre being in the Marfell community would be positive.
A redevelopment of Marfell Park has been in the works for several years. In the TSB Community Trust's latest round of grants, the NPDC was awarded $41,520 to go towards a new entrance and pathway into the park.
In February 2015, council narrowly voted in favour of buying two Housing New Zealand houses in Cook St worth $458,000 so they could be demolished to make a new, grand entrance.
The park project has been lauded by previous councillors as the starting point for rejuvenating one of New Plymouth city's most neglected neighbourhoods.
The decision to relocate the arts and craft centre will come before the full council in December.