Community Consultation

Consulting with the Community
The iconic Bath House building which housed the Rotorua Museum is a significant building for our the local community as well as New Zealand.
It is also one of the most complex projects taking place in New Zealand at the moment, with geothermal, heritage and structural issues to consider.
The project is a huge cost, and it has been important to come out to the Rotorua community to hear what they want to do with the building, and how much they were willing to pay.
The community has been consulted twice over the period from Museum close until construction commencement.
2018-2028 Long-term Plan
As part of Council’s 2018 Long Term Plan consultation, three options were considered for the future of Rotorua Museum. The building project was expected to cost $53.5m, made up of $15.5m committed by Rotorua Lakes Council and the balance ($38m) of funding coming from four funding partners
Options Considered
OPTION 1 – Fully restore and re-open the Museum
Undertake the necessary seismic strengthening of the building to a minimum of 80% of New Building Standard (NBS), repair long term maintenance issues, upgrade exhibition content including digital capability, upgrade facilities to meet regulatory requirements, repair damaged services from prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulphide and replace the roof with a more lightweight option.
OPTION 2 – Partial restoration
This option would maintain the façade of the building, but the building would not be reopened. Maintaining the façade would mean the building continued to be a major drawcard for people to the Government Gardens.
OPTION 3 – Demolish the building and construct a multi-purpose Museum
Over its lifetime the Bath House building has had several functions. The decision to operate a museum required many parts of the original building to be modified for housing and exhibiting art and taonga. Some believe a new multi-purpose museum should be constructed, somewhere removed from Government Gardens as the geothermal environment is a major challenge when showcasing artefacts/taonga.

713 submissions were received on the Museum project during this consultation, and of those who expressed a preference, over 80% were in favour of Option 1 – to fully restore and re-open the Museum.

2023 Consultation
In 2021, following extensive research into the complexities of the 100+ year building and geothermal ground, the project was estimated at $81.4m, which was more than $28m above the confirmed project funding $53.5m.
Options Considered
OPTION A – Follow the 2018-2028 Long-term Plan decision. Continue to fully restore the building and reopen as a Museum. This would require additional external funding to bridge the funding gap.
OPTION B – Staged Project. Stage One: Fully strengthen the building. Stage Two: Complete restoration and fit-out to reopen the building as a Museum.
OPTION C – Find Alternative. Find an alternative location for the Museum and its services.
The community consultation resulted in 85% support for Option A.
On 2 August 2023 the RLC Infrastructure and Environment Committee voted in favour of proceeding the strengthening and re-opening of Rotorua Museum (OPTION A), subject to being satisfied about specified conditions being met:
• The Committee acknowledges that it would not be prudent for Council to apply additional funding beyond the $15.5m already committed for the project;
• The Committee directs staff to negotiate a construction contract and project management approach that sufficiently de-risks the project and that there is a progressive approach to construction;
• Existing and additional funding being confirmed which allows a future committee approval to enter into a construction contract for the awarding of each stage of the construction to the extent of funding available;
• Staff to report back on other risk and cost mitigations and a process to manage the contract.

Completed detailed design and new building quote saw the building project cost reduce to $73.35m.
Additional external funding was sources to cover 79% of the building costs, allowing Rotorua Lakes Council to remain within the $15.5m committed in the 2018-2028 Long-term Plan
On 30 April 2024, Rotorua Lakes Council confirmed they were happy with the above conditions being met and announced Watts & Hughes as the project construction company.

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