• Patrick McBride

PGF supports four new visitor experience centres on the West Coast

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing nearly $18 million in a region wide collaboration to connect the area’s tourist attractions located in Haast, Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport.

Greymouth River

The Te Ara Pounamu pathways project will receive $17.87 million to support the roll out of state-of-the-art innovative digital technology to tell the West Coast’s unique cultural and historical stories, for the first time, to Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.

“Four new ‘visitor experience centres’ in separate locations across the West Coast will support the region’s tourism operators, boost sustainable employment, and provide upskilling opportunities for local people.

“This is just one of a number of projects in the West Coast that we are working on together to help support job creation and a sustainable tourism industry.

“Over 50 jobs will be created through the construction, management and operation of the hubs," Fletcher Tabuteau announced in Hokitika today.

By working across the region’s councils and with local iwi, this initiative will encourage visitors to spend more, travel further, and stay longer in the region.

During a workshop on culture and heritage in 2019, Francois Tumahai, Chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, said that the history of Maori across the West Coast had been missing from many of the stories of the region, and central to that story was pounamu.

"If we can encourage tourists to stay an extra night, or two, as they follow the Pathway, exploring the Maori stories from the first landings, to land battles, trade of pounamu, the discovery of gold, and how these then intertwine with our European settlement past, then this will provide the opportunity to generate significant additional spend throughout our region." Tumahai said.

The first hub will start to be built in Haast later this year, with all four expected to be completed by 2023.

“I’m pleased to be supporting this latest investment in a project that will boost the West Coast region by diversifying its economic reliance on mining and agriculture, and put the region in a strong position over the long-term to capitalise on future tourism,” Tabuteau added