Latest update: 06/02/2019

New cultural centre for Christchurch

February 2019

Waka tours on the Avon River are set to become a new central city attraction with Ōtākaro Limited divesting the site at 794 Colombo Street to Ko Tāne, for the development of a $3.5m riverside cultural centre.

Ōtākaro Chief Executive, John Bridgman, says it’s an ideal site for the Ko Tāne venture given how close it is to known visitor destinations like the City Promenade, Te Pae, Victoria Square and the Town Hall.

“The City Promenade has proved a hit since we opened it in November but it’s the private developments like this, that sit alongside it, that will make it a true asset for Christchurch.” 

Ko Tāne has been providing interactive wildlife and Māori cultural experiences to local and international visitors for the past 13 years at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

Ko Tāne Director, David Brennan, says the design of the 250m2 Puari Village is inspired by a voyaging waka and will feature exhibitions, art and contemporary Māori cuisine, and be the base for city and waka tours.

“The aim is to create a world class interactive tourism attraction that tells the story of the Ōtākaro River and people that have come to make the river their home over the past centuries.”

Fellow Ko Tāne Director, Mark Willis, says work on Puari Village will start around the middle of 2019 with the aim of opening it late in 2020.

“With new spaces opening all the time and Te Pae and the Town Hall on the horizon, it’s a great time to be bringing the Ko Tāne experience into the central city.

We can’t wait to get our paddles in the water.”



Ko Tāne background.

Ko Tāne was formed in January 2003 by the Brennan and Willis families.

Hori Brennan was the driving force behind Ngā Hau E Whā National Marae. The marae was the first multi-cultural Marae in our country.

Michael Willis has been the driving force behind Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

In 1979 Hori and Michael came together to open the first Māori village in a wildlife reserve at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.