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Civic Facility Development

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Masterton District Council is moving ahead with plans to build a multi-functional, multi-cultural civic facility. Built with today’s needs and tomorrow’s communities in mind, the Masterton Civic Facility will reflect who we are as a district.

We asked the community over several rounds of consultation, and in 2021 the Council voted 6-5 to build a modern civic facility that would:

  • support the performing and visual arts with a flexi-form black box theatre space
  • house a modern, accessible, and fit for purpose library and archives
  • create an information hub for our communities (Council services; i-site; box office etc)
  • allow access to a purpose-built function-come-exhibition space
  • provide suitable kitchen facilities to support the event space
  • facilitate meetings of all sizes with meeting rooms for community groups and other users.

The Masterton Civic Facility will create a hub at the north end of town, offering a strong connection to other public spaces and welcoming visitors to Masterton.

The Facility will be designed and built to reflect our Kaupapa as a district – representative of the stories that surround us. We will engage with iwi and other groups as the facility is developed to ensure it reflects the best of us and will work well for our community.

Importantly, our new Masterton Civic Facility will rarely sit empty. As the home of our district Library and Archive, the people of Masterton and visitors to our district will use the space every day.

Community groups and businesses will be able to use a range of meeting spaces, local artists can exhibit there, performances can be staged there, communities can be strengthened within its walls. This will truly become a fully accessible hub for Masterton and its people.

We are building a facility designed to build community – a shared space for people with diverse backgrounds and interests to come together; to create a heart for culture, learning, creative expression, corporate gatherings and strengthened communities within our District.

Exploring a new site

Following Council voting to end negotiations for a site owned by Masterton Trust Lands Trust, we have directed our architect, Architectus, to explore land at and around the Trust House Recreation Centre as a potential location for the Masterton Civic Facility.

This land is already owned by Council and aligns with Council’s decision in 2020 that the north end of town be the preferred location for the new facility.

Where we are at

The first Civic Facility Steering Committee took place on Wednesday 9 March, with a focus on options for our potential future site on the council-owned land surrounding the Trust House Recreation Centre.

Architectural firm Architectus explained the intent of the project – to create a facility that brings people together, that supports placemaking, and is focused on community. Architectus also outlined their process for engaging with users and stakeholders of the library and theatre.

Workshops are now underway with subject matter experts and key stakeholders, based on the main elements the Civic Facility will offer. Theatre workshops have already started – exploring the aspirational ideas and practical needs of local theatre users. Workshops around the Library will begin next – with all workshops expected to be completed by Easter.

These workshops will drive how the functional areas of the Civic Facility will work – exciting news for our Library and Archive in particular as they begin to explore how their modern spaces might work best within the Civic Facility for our expanding community well into the future.

Our growth in the past 5 years has been spectacular. It’s great to see many younger families are choosing the region to call home – giving us greater impetus to design a facility for them and future generations.

Initial options were used to highlight the adaptability of the proposed site – with three ideas shown as an illustration for how the site might be used, taking into consideration existing geographical features and sight lines, and a sense of connection to the town centre and the facility’s immediate surrounds. These were by no means final options but gave an exciting glimpse into what could be possible on that site.

We also heard from our Fundraiser, Steve Bramley. He offered insight into how these projects work around New Zealand – with a focus on community collaboration.

Community collaboration was a strong theme in this meeting. Architectus were very clear that mana whenua /iwi collaboration and community partnerships would be key to the success of the project moving forward.

We look forward to continuing to share ideas, and to collaborating with partners and our community as the Civic Facility project continues.

Photo – artist’s impression. Not indicative of the final design.

The Decision Timeline

When Masterton’s town hall and municipal buildings were closed in 2016 after being found to be earthquake-prone, it started discussions around what type of civic facility Masterton needed.

In a 2017 survey, 65 per cent of 220 community respondents told us they preferred to build a new facility over strengthening the existing town hall building.

In 2018, as part of consultation on the 2018-21 Long-Term Plan (LTP), we proposed three key options:

  • build a new facility (59 per cent supported this – cost $15.5M)
  • strengthen the existing building (27 per cent support – cost $12-$15M)
  • not replace the town hall (14 per cent support – cost $850,000).

As a result of this consultation, the Council decided to build a new performing arts and events centre.

The 2018 LTP also included up to $5 million for extending the library in 2020/21 and 2021/22. The 2020/21 Annual Plan put this expenditure on hold to consider other options, including the whether the library should be included in the new multi-purpose facility.

In the summer of 2019/20, more than 1,050 people responded to a survey on what their civic centre should contain.

The facilities chosen as most important were:

  • space for concerts
  • meeting room facilities
  • arts/cultural exhibition space
  • a library

The 2020/21 annual plan included a decision that a multi-purpose civic facility be built, with $250,000 budgeted for the year to pay for initial planning and design work.

In August 2020, the council announced it was looking at a range of potential locations for a multi-purpose civic facility after fine-tuning objectives for the community asset.

In April 2021, the building housing the Wairarapa Archives was found to be earthquake-prone, and the operation was moved to the Masterton library. During this move, the basement of the library was found to be mouldy, as a result of ongoing leaking. 

In May 2021, as part of LTP consultation, the community was asked when the civic facility should be built and how it should be funded:

  • 46 per cent of the 191 submitters preferred either building straight away or with a minimum of $4m funding.

On 2 June, the Council voted 6-5 to proceed with building the civic facility, including the library and archive, with at least $4 million in external funding, from 2022/23.

Funding the Civic Facility

The total estimated cost is $30.3 million with a minimum $4m sourced from external funding. The actual cost to ratepayers once complete is estimated to be less than $2 per week on each household rates bill.

$250,000 was allocated in FY 2020- 21 to get initial planning and design work underway. The project is anticipated to take four years to complete.

Up-to-date project costs will be included in reporting to the Civic Facility Project Committee, with agendas made available on the Meetings and Agendas page of this website, linked below:

SGL Funding LTD has been appointed as the Capital Fundraiser on behalf of MDC. Their role is to develop the Capital Fundraising Strategy on behalf of the Council to obtain the $4m required to complete the Civic Facility. SGL Funding has been engaged to develop the fundraising feasibility for $29,700 and will be engaged later to facilitate and negotiate potential donor funds once the feasibility study has been completed. Upon developing the feasibility and understanding what the scope will be required to undertake the facilitation and negotiations, MDC will commit further budget to SGL.

Architectus has been engaged to lead the Architectural design on behalf of MDC for a contract value of $1.85m. The cost includes the development of the project briefing, concept, and detailed design right through to building consent and construction completion.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are you doing?

Masterton District Council is moving ahead with plans to build a multi-functional, multi-cultural civic facility. Built with today’s needs and tomorrow’s communities in mind, the facility will reflect who we are as a district.

What prompted this?

When the town hall and municipal buildings had to be closed after checks in 2016 found they were earthquake-prone – we started thinking about what the best option for a future facility might be.

What engagement has taken place?

  • 2017 – survey with 220 community respondents – majority told us they preferred to build a new facility.
  • 2018 – consultation on the 2018-21 Long-Term Plan – per consultation results, Council agreed that facility would include a performing arts and events centre.
  • 2019/20 – survey with 1,050 community respondents – told us what the Civic Facility should contain. The facilities chosen as most important were:
    • space for concerts
    • meeting room facilities
    • arts/cultural exhibition space
    • a library.

Why not build on the current town hall site?

The site of the current Town Hall might have been the best location in 1915, but it’s not anymore because it’s not well connected to our Town Centre and getting people safely across SH2 is a challenge, the site is limited in size which means that we aren’t able to build what we need for our future generations

What’s happening with the Town Hall?

No decisions have been me about the Town Hall. Council met and agreed that whatever happens to the Town Hall site, the façade will be retained.

How much will it cost?

In June 2021, Council agreed to allocate $30.8 million spread over the next six years, with external funding of at least $4 million.

What has it cost so far?

The 2021/21 Annual Plan included investing in a shared, multi-purpose facility. It states:

$250,000 has been allocated in 2020- 21 for this project to get initial planning and design work underway.

Laatest figures on the Civic Facility are reported in the Civic Facility Steering Committee meetings. These meetings are broadcast live, with agendas and minutes available online.

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