The Central Economic Development Agency is proud to be leading a significant study focused on transforming Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge into a major tourism destination, following a successful application to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

The Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau was in Woodville on Wednesday morning to meet with the latest successful PGF applicants and undertake site visits in the Manawatu Gorge to Te Hononga Maunga and Te Waha o Te Kuri, which was hosted by Rangitane o Tamaki nui a Rua. CEDA was one of two successful recipients, receiving $100,000 for a feasibility study into future opportunities for Te Apiti.

“There are several exciting projects, ideas and initiatives happening in and around Te Apiti already, but this funding and the aim of this feasibility study is to provide an overview and shared vision of the collective opportunities here. CEDA’s role in leading this is to identify the key steps to realising Te Apiti’s full potential,” says CEDA’s Marketing and Communications Manager Janet Reynolds.

The feasibility study involves more than 45 individual stakeholders, including four councils (Palmerston North City Council, Manawatu District Council, Tararua District Council and Horizons Regional Council), multiple government agencies, sports clubs, landowners, Iwi and hapu, and more.

CEDA initiated and is leading the project as part of its work to develop and grow Manawatu’s visitor sector and position the region as a magnet for investment, business and talent.

Manawatu is experiencing levels of growth that have not been seen for more than 30 years, with almost $4 billion of private and public investment underway in the region in the next 10 years. This includes projects like the Manawatu -Tararua Highway – Te Ahu a Turanga, the Regional Freight Ring Road, KiwiRail’s multi-modal hub and Mercury Energy’s new Turitea Wind Farm.

This infrastructure investment provides a catalyst for further development and growth to ensure Manawatu, as a region, can maximise the opportunities.

“Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge’s unique landscape and ecological diversity, coupled with its location at the centre of three major state highways and the North Island passenger rail – and its close proximity to other key destinations like Taupo, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington, means it is well positioned to become even more of a visitor destination than it is.”

Working closely with a multitude of partners means final outcomes will be focused on regional growth that is of benefit to our people and local communities. This includes townships like Woodville which has been impacted by the closures of the Manawatu Gorge road following slips.

The feasibility study is underway and is due to be completed by the end of August. Last month CEDA hosted key industry experts from across the visitor sector for a successful two day familiarisation trip of Te Apiti and surrounds with the support of Rangitane o Manawatu and Rangitane o Tamaki nui a Rua. This visit was to seek their view on Te Apiti’s strengths, opportunities, challenges and barriers and to look at how we could enhance Te Apiti’s value proposition to inform the commercial validation stage of the feasibility study.

“We are looking to attract high value visitors that want to get off the beaten track and experience something unique and not choreographed,” says Reynolds.

Future tourism opportunities could include activities relating to ecotourism, cultural and on-water experiences, the development of further walking and biking tracks, through to accommodation and adventure activities such as ziplining, for example.

“We know that Te Apiti has significant untapped tourism potential and this feasibility study is the first step towards unlocking that potential, while allowing us to get things right by enhancing the environmental, cultural and educational value of the area.”

The other successful applicant is Kahungunu ki Tamaki nui-a-Rua, which received $100,000 of Provincial Growth Funding to investigate a unique tourist trail between Woodville and Ashhurst to showcase Maori culture.

“The proposed tourist trail has the potential to showcase rich Maori culture through virtual reality. If realised, the project will be a great example of the use of old and new to tell the story of Maori gods and their place in Te Ao Maori,” says Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

To read the media release from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, visit Beehive.govt.nz

For more information:
Jemma Brackebush
Communications Senior
jemma.brackebush@ceda.nz
027 253 5393

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