Improving civics spaces is a core component of what the Council needs to be doing. Having good civic spaces helps bring our community together, provides us with space to meet, play and relax. It also helps create a sense of understanding for each other and civic pride. Done well, developing good civic space can transform communities. This is one of the reasons why we support the lakefront development. It needs it.

The lakefront should be a place that we are proud of, a place where we all feel comfortable and where we want to go. For too long it’s been a bit sad, somewhere that if we do visit we stick to our cars, and somewhere that despite the beautiful lake and view we don’t engage with.

Currently we have a mismatch of buildings, a parking lot plonked on the lakefront and a playground that you need to cross a car park and road to get to from the lake, there’s also a lot of dark empty space that is just simply not inviting. The redevelopment plans improve a lot of these issues and are promising, but we need more.

One of the best things about the plans is that we will be able to access the lake. The lake is beautiful, and you should be able to access it when visiting the lakefront. See how clean the water is now and to wade in it if you want. By creating this interaction with the environment, we engage with it, and we then become invested in valuing it and wanting to improve it. This has been one of the great successes in the Wellington and Auckland waterfront developments, opening space for people to enjoy something that they have often overlooked. We need to feel part of the environment to truly appreciate it.

It will also be great to see a new water sports centre on the lakefront, a place for our kapa haka community to launch and race from, a place that gets people involved in being part of the story of Lake Rotorua. The lake should be enjoyed by everyone, the issue now is the lakefront isn’t set up to allow that.

Developing the waterfront is also key from an economic perspective. This allows for the development of the lakefront spa complex and 5-star hotel. From a tourism lens Rotorua needs to provide high-end accommodation and services, this means we fit with how New Zealand is advertising ourselves to the world, and it caters to a market that will pay more, hopefully raising the on average tourist spend per night in Rotorua from $350 toward the $1200 in Queenstown. Tourists paying more for high-end services means we can pay people more and that improves the lives of people in our community.

But we also need top-level commercial development within the lakefront development. We already mentioned the idea of a new water sports facility housing sailing, kapa haka, rowing and other water sport activities. Rotorua Lakes Council has recently released their invitation to pitch. It would be incredible to have commercial buildings at the waterfront that are drawcards in their own right, buildings that inspire and represent our community. We believe there should space to be able to dine on the lakefront, meeting and conference facilities, information and tourist facilities, and space to hold events. If we get it right, we might not just have a much better lakefront, we might have one which is truly incredible. It will depend on what we as a community ask for. Let’s all work together to make the lakefront something that we are all proud of, something that is world-class that we enjoy and can show the world.

We’ve been asking people, what would you like to see in terms of restaurants or other commercial vendors at the new lakefront? Do you have a favourite top chef that you’d like to see open their latest restaurant on our waterfront? Are there facilities that you think should be a part of this new space? Share your ideas with us at https://www.facebook.com/566075640560177/posts/664894277344979/

And don’t just tell us! Tell those you’d like to see operating at the lakefront and encourage them to register their interest now!

Image credits: https://connectingvisiontoaction.myportfolio.com/lakefront-revitalisation