Waipa floats idea of discovery centre for the district

Concept drawings for the proposed Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu.
Waipa District Council

Concept drawings for the proposed Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu.

A "discovery centre" could bring together Te Awamutu's museum and i-Site services under one roof.

Waipa District Council has floated the concept to the community and is asking for feedback on the idea.

There were no details on how much it would cost or whether all ratepayers, including those in Cambridge, would have to contribute to the project, which would be built in Te Awamutu.

Concept drawings for the proposed Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu.
Waipa District Council

Concept drawings for the proposed Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu.

No avenues of funding had been identified yet. Any formal proposal, including costs, would have to be included in the council's 10 year plan, which would go out for formal public comment in March next year.

It would include how costs might be split between the district's communities.

Independent research identified a "clear market" for a discovery centre promoting the district's unique character and identity.

But Waipa Mayor Jim Mylchreest said it must "stack up" against other projects.

It would have to be more than just a "flash new museum".

"Three years ago when we floated the idea of a Te Awamutu museum, we talked about a cost of $6 million and noted around $4m to $5m of that would need to be raised externally," he said.

"Since then, and following advice, the concept has moved towards a broader discovery centre."

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Waipa District Council set aside $1.5m to kick-start the project, noting external fundraising would be needed.

"This is something we want the community to start thinking about before key decisions are made.

"There's a lot of discussion to be had yet, including with iwi. But if we want to do this – and that's yet to be decided - we must do it right.

"All the research indicates that simply building a bigger, better museum is not the way to go.

"We need to think much more creatively and ensure that whatever we develop is supported by key partners as well as external funders."

An independent report suggested any discovery centre must "maintain a suitable balance between education and entertainment".

It would need to be a modern, high quality and interactive experience appealing to family groups and interesting if its to successfully engage visitors.

Mylchreest said whether or not a discovery centre was supported by council and the community came down to vision, timing and funding.

The focus will be stories of national significance, including the Waikato land wars.

Consideration is being given to additional services with possibility of the i-Site being incorporated into the complex.

 - Stuff

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