Michael Spedding Jim Anderton Michael Chrisp
Research cash boost for tourist attraction
Anderton announces regional initiative grant
by Kristine Walsh The Gisborne Herald 24 March 2005
THE Tairawhiti Voyaging Project has received a major boost in securing $110,000 in research funding from the Government.
The funding will pay for an economic impact study and concept development for the Tairawhiti Museum-driven Voyaging Project.
Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Jim Anderton, yesterday made a brief stopover in Gisborne to announce he had approved the grant from the discretionary Regional Initiatives Fund, administered by the Ministry of Economic Development.
Early indications are that the project will encompass a Voyaging Centre — possibly positioned around the Waikanae Beach/Waikanae Stream area plus heritage development around the nearby waterways
The location is considered to be of significance to both Maori and European voyaging histories, and as the site of the first meeting in the 18th century between Maori and British navigator Captain Cook.
“Gisborne has some of New Zealand’s most significant historical sites and these could form the basis of a Voyaging Centre, where the common history of voyaging shared by all New Zealanders can be explored,” Mr Anderton told a gathering of supporters at Tairawhiti Museum.
“It could become a key tourist attraction for the entire country.”
The initiative had for three years been a key project for Tairawhiti Museum and more than $140,000 — mostly from local sources — had already been sunk into it.
It had largely been driven by museum director Michael Spedding, who last week announced that he would be vacating the director’s chair by the end of April.
However, the museum board indicated that it was keen to retain his services as a consultant, especially with regard to the Voyaging Project.
Mr Spedding told The Gisborne Herald that granting of the RIF fund would be staggered.
The first portion of $35,000 would be spent on an economic assessment of the project, tipped to take two months at its starting date in May.
If that proved favourable, the remainder of the grant would go on concept development, which would involve extensive public consultation and was likely to take about a year.
The museum board confirmed that it would look to Mr Spedding to lead the concept development stage.
Comments from Mr Anderton indicated that yesterday’s grant could be a case of the Ministry setting itself up for major future investment.
If the initiative were to become a reality, it could cost in the millions and for Government to approve that funding, the project’s drivers would have to come up with “a pretty solid business plan”.
That would be helped greatly by the work funded by the current grant.
However, though his primary-interest was in economic development, it was not all about dollars and cents, he said.
“For a region to prosper, there are many pieces of the puzzle that have to be fitted together.”
“Its economy, obviously, is an important piece. But there are also social, environmental and cultural elements to consider.”