An exciting new opportunity for Kapiti is being promoted by the Guardians of the Kapiti Marine Reserve. For the past few months, they have been investigating the possibility of redeveloping the former Raumati pools building into a Kāpiti marine education, research and activity centre.
This proposal has been met with widespread support from schools, educators and many other members of the wider community and there is now an opportunity to move this proposal forward via submissions to the KCDC Long term Plan (LTP).
The Guardians Trust Board will be making a submission to the KCDC LTP in support of a feasibility study to investigate the business case and viability of this proposal further and is calling on other Kapiti residents and organisations to do the same.
Spokesperson Ben Knight says “At this stage we believe the project would be well suited as an inward investment and community partnership opportunity for KCDC with many economic, educational and environmental benefits for our district. We don’t expect KCDC to stump up any cash for this and believe funding to support this project could come from a variety of sources including Shane Jones Regional Economic Development Fund, Lotteries grants and corporate sponsors. The main inputs from KCDC would be a low or no cost long term lease on the building and a willingness to partner with the Guardians and other community stakeholders to further investigate this proposal.”
The Kāpiti Marine Reserve and surrounding marine space has been a focal area for marine research over the past 25 years. Institutions such as Victoria University’s Wellington Coastal Ecology Laboratory and the School of Biological Sciences, Department of Conservation (DoC), National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the Waikato University Environmental Research Institute have current research projects within the reserve.
A key requirement for marine education and research facilities is close proximity to the coast and access to a source of fresh seawater. The Raumati pools site meets both of these requirements and has an existing seawater intake pipe already in place which was used to bring fresh saltwater into the pool prior to it being converted to chlorinated fresh water. The site also has plenty of parking, is adjacent to a well-used and popular local park (Marine gardens) with cafés, restaurants and bars all within close proximity to the site.
It is proposed that the centre would include a variety of aquariums and touch tanks, large centrepice aquarium hosting common local marine life, interactive displays, educational facilities including lecture theatres and laboratories; a virtual reality suite, a souvenir shop, and research facilities.