Kaikōura’s upcoming Wakatu Quay development is set to have a seafood theme. Chris Sturgeon, the project lead for the Kaikōura marine development programme, stated that the mixed-use development will likely incorporate hospitality, local artistry, fishing, and tourism enterprises all centered around a seafood motif.
Sturgeon expressed the project’s long-term vision, saying, “We are building something my children and grandchildren can see and will benefit the community. It could take five or 10 years, but this is a project with long-term intent.” Construction is expected to commence by June of the upcoming year.
Following a public consultation last month, the Kaikōura District Council has decided to spearhead the development. The consultation yielded about 230 submissions, of which 83% approved of the council’s potential borrowing of up to $800,000. This would enable access to the remaining $7.3 million from a grant provided by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.
Sturgeon is optimistic about the project’s progress, anticipating a tenant to occupy the space by mid-2025, just in time for the 2025/26 summer season. Retail outlets, however, will be excluded from the site to not divert attention from Westend’s primary shopping centre. The site could potentially host market days or festivities like Matariki, augmented with food vans and street performers.
Incorporating cultural elements into the development is also on the agenda. The council is in discussions with Ngāti Kurī about integrating a cultural narrative. “We are keen to have a rūnanga presence on site and it would be good to have some kind of experience which talks about our history, both Māori and European,” said Sturgeon.
The Provincial Growth Fund had granted the council $9.8 million in 2019 to transform the Wakatu Quay site into a business hub. As the primary developer, the council will assume any risks and gather any returns from the project. The plan to borrow $800,000 will be included in the council’s 2024/34 Long Term Plan.