The 40-year-old North Egmont Visitor Centre is to be replaced with a new fit-for-purpose facility.
The decision to build a new visitor centre was recently made by project partners Department of Conservation (DOC), Kānoa-RDU, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Regional Development Unit and Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa (Te Kotahitanga).
$2.89 million has already been granted from Kānoa-RDU’s $13.3 million Provincial Growth Fund toward the design and construction of the new centre. The result will be an even greater experience for visitors to Taranaki Maunga and the 29-kilometre Taranaki Crossing.
Te Kotahitanga have agreed to underwrite the new visitor centre build while additional funding is sought.
The new centre will be constructed within the footprint of the current facility and carpark area, within Egmont National Park, at the top of Egmont Road.
Te Kotahitanga will project manage the design and build of the new visitor centre.
DOC will continue to provide onsite visitor track and safety information, within a facility that reflects the cultural connection of Te Atiawa to the northern side of Taranaki Maunga. There will also be opportunities for additional functional spaces.
After a rigorous tendering process, TOA Architects were successful in their application to design the new facility. They bring a wealth of experience designing similar facilities including Te Motu a Hiaroa Marae and Visitor Centre, Hauturu o Toi/Little Barrier Island Visitor Centre for Ngāti Manuhiri and DOC, among other notable projects. TOA will work closely with Te Kotahitanga to facilitate engagement with hapū and iwi to strengthen their hononga (connection) to this site once more, together with DOC staff, concession holders and other stakeholder groups.
Once design wānanga and engagements have been completed, a final design will be selected. Construction is anticipated to begin late-2023.
Liana Poutu, Chair of Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, says the new construction will strengthen Te Atiawa connection to their tupuna maunga as well as the broader community.
“We want a facility that will benefit our whole community and enhance visitor experiences through cultural narratives,” Ms Poutu says.
Kānoa’s Principal Regional Adviser for Taranaki, Bridget Sullivan says a new fit-for-purpose visitor centre will play an important role in supporting visitors enjoying the Taranaki Crossing.
“With the commitment and project management of Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, the new centre is set to offer visitors a much richer experience during their time on Taranaki Maunga,” says Ms Sullivan.
DOC’s Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki Regional Director Daniel Heinrich says the partnership to deliver this project is important for Taranaki.
“We’re very proud to be working with Te Kotahitanga and Kānoa on this project, as it strongly reflects some of the fundamental aspects of our Treaty of Waitangi partnership and enhances that vital relationship,” Mr Heinrich says.
The current North Egmont Visitor Centre will remain operating while the new centre is built. The old visitor centre will be deconstructed as required.