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Consultation commences on plans for expanded Napier National Aquarium

Consultation commences on plans for expanded Napier National Aquarium
August 13, 2019

The process to complete the detailed business case for the proposed expansion of the National Aquarium of New Zealand, known as Project Shapeshifter: Redefining our National Aquarium, has entered an important phase, with sector consultation underway.

The vision for Project Shapeshifter is being shared at a series of workshops with stakeholders including iwi, youth and leaders from the fields of conservation, research, education and tourism.

Antoinette Campbell, Director Community Services at Napier City Council explains “we are redefining our national aquarium to make a significant and positive contribution to New Zealand’s aquatic environments, from mountain top to deep ocean trench.

"These workshops with our sector partners are a crucial part of the detailed business case development and will help ensure from the outset that we have a plan to deliver a truly game-changing national aquarium for the region and our country.

The name Project Shapeshifter is emblematic of MÄui - the ‘shapeshifter’ and great East Polynesian ancestor-explorer of the Pacific Ocean. Our challenge is to be bold and adventurous like MÄui - to be a shapeshifter and game-changer.

Campbell adds "we are excited to share our ideas and passion for this project. We’re asking our stakeholders to join with us and contribute their valuable knowledge and expertise so that we can revitalise and shapeshift the national aquarium.

"A modern aquarium that reconnects people with our aquatic environment, and showcases aquatic life and humanity’s interdependence with it, will help people understand what goes on under the water and how our everyday actions can affect those fragile environments - both positively and negatively.

"We want to create a globally distinctive facility to amaze, inspire and compel. We can only achieve this by working closely with our partners and ensuring that their experience and perspectives are considered.

"There has been great buy-in from the workshops so far. Participants have been enthusiastic; not only for the project itself but also for the consultation process.”

Once the sector workshops are completed and feedback collated, the public will be invited to participate by sharing their thoughts about the project. This is likely to be in September.

Commenting on this, Campbell concludes "we are hopeful that once people have had a chance to see how Project Shapeshifter is developing, they will be just as enthusiastic and excited about the huge potential of this project, and proud that such an inspirational and provocative facility is located in their region.”

Project Shapeshifter objectives:

• Create a globally distinctive icon to amaze, inspire and compel, that reconnects people with our aquatic environment, from mountain top to deep ocean trench, ki uta - ki tai, ki te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, to care for the well-being of our planet;
• Deliver a landmark conservation centre and contributing to research with learning at its core;
• Project cost will be determined through the final detailed business case. A $10m investment will come from NCC over two years and the balance will be funded through a mix of public and private investment from both New Zealand and overseas;
• Alignment with the objectives of Matariki: Hawke’s Bay’s Regional Development Strategy for economic and social growth;
• A strong indicative business case that contributes financially, environmentally and culturally to the region;
• Alignment with Napier City Council’s Long-Term Plan;
• Full business case process has started and will be presented to Government later this year;
• Key partners include Air New Zealand, University of Waikato, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Hawke’s Bay Tourism and local iwi;
• Expanded facility earmarked to open in 2025.

Estimated timeline for Project Shapeshifter:
• Late 2019 Detailed business case submitted to Government and (hopefully) approved
• 2020 - 2021 Detailed design and concept development (including consultation), and funding partnerships secured
• 2022-2024 Construction
• 2025 Redefined National Aquarium of New Zealand opens.

Images: How the National Aquarium of New Zealand will look after its expansion (top), a diver at the National Aquarium of New Zealand (middle) and the WETA's 2017 expansion concept (below).

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17th April 2019 - Napier City Council moves forward with new aquatic facility plans

27th September 2017 - Weta Workshop given ‘creative licence’ for Napier Aquarium redevelopment

30th September 2015 - New Zealand looks to create massive marine sanctuary

10th January 2015 - Former Napier Marineland seal dies

4th February 2014 - Plans progress on Napier wave park

25th January 2013 - 28 Years of Conservation Success at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium

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