It started out as a traveling dinosaur show for kids and evolved into a multi-million dollar native park concept.
A $ 36 million Waikato Cultural Park has been proposed for Waipā, showcasing five different Indigenous cultures in the Pacific region, including Tainui Māori, Pasifika, Native Hawaiian, Australian Aboriginal and Native American.
The park is the brainchild of the Poihi-Bush family, who traveled to Tainui and Te Arawa, with the support of 20 other indigenous entrepreneurs from the Pacific nations.
With a resource consent request filed soon, Hamilton founder Natalia Robson-Bush said if all went according to plan, it would become the first of its kind in the world.
* The “old ways” are the key to a sustainable future for indigenous peoples
* Kiwi dinosaurs roam Lake Hamilton for the city’s first Dinofest
* Uluru Travel Guide, Australia: Things to Do Instead of Climbing
“It was my father’s last wish that we make this vision come true,” said Robson-Bush Thing.
His brother, Darren Bush, also known as “Dinosaur Darren the Legend Hunter,” ran a popular interactive dinosaur show that toured the country, educating around 200,000 children about prehistoric life and native legends.
He made several attempts to turn his interactive show Dinosaurs Rock NZ into a theme park, but it never came to fruition, she said.
“When my father passed away in 2016 at the funeral, my whānau brought up stories of when my father and uncles went on different earthly visits with Darren.
“He’s always been so supportive of the idea. “
Not wanting to give up on the family dream, Robson-Bush decided to do a feasibility study and if it accumulated, she would “try”.
“Through the study, I found a market of people really calling for something like this, so we expanded from there.
“There hasn’t been a theme park in Waikato since Hobbiton. It’s time to create something a little different that promotes Indigenous culture in a unique and positive way.
At a projected cost of around $ 5.4 million, the first phase will include the five indigenous villages with a shallow lagoon in the middle representing the vast voyages made by each culture.
With $ 1.5 million already invested in the project, Robson-Bush said they hoped to secure the remaining $ 4 million from private investors, community groups and government funds.
Aiming to complete it by February, the group will then deploy a Hawaiian wedding chapel, ancient dinosaur village, native performing arts theater, farm, and schools program for eco-warriors. , a Native American wellness retreat and a four-star Fijian-style resort. the next four years.
The theme of the 120-hectare park will be based on love stories and ancient indigenous legends, with the hopes of creating more joy and magic for children of all ages.
Using Disneyland in Elohim and the Polynesian Cultural Center in Luau, Hawaii, as case studies, Robson-Bush said the Waikato Culture Park will incorporate a similar layout to “maximize revenue and optimize experiences.”
“We also plan to build New Zealand’s largest ground-based solar farm on 2 hectares of land, which will produce 2 megawatts of electricity for the park and surrounding communities,” she said.
“This means that Waikato Cultural Park could achieve a net zero carbon footprint and a Green Star rating, due to its use of green building materials, gray water recycling and waste management, waste collection. rainwater and the restoration of a native wetland. “
She said the park will also provide 220 full-time jobs and 30 apprenticeships until the first stage.
When asked if she was concerned that the concept was too ambitious, she replied that your ideas cannot be “stale” when it comes to a theme park.
She was also not worried about obtaining the consent of the resources.
“If you’re going to go for a big theme park, you have to have variety, and you have to have incentives to keep people coming back.
“We want to serve approximately 309 schools in Waikato, educate them about Indigenous practices and sustainability as well as entertain domestic and international tourists, and we want to give back to the community.
“It’s a big project, but we got a lot of support from Waipā council staff. A lot of people are behind the idea and just want to see it come to life. “