Civic Centre

  • Project typeNew build
  • Project value$59 million
  • Project schedulePlanned completion - Feb 2023
  • Contractor nameCanam Commercial
Whangarei new civic building preliminary design

Whangārei District's new civic building will be a fit-for-purpose building, designed to provide a welcoming, inclusive and easily accessible customer experience. The building will be designed to be sustainable and to strongly reflect our cultural identity and heritage.

The building will be a central hub for local government-related activities, including:

  • democratic processes
  • customer services
  • administrative functions
  • council staff
  • Northland Transport Alliance staff.

Preliminary designs of the new Civic Centre building

Why do we need a new civic building?

To put it simply, we outgrew the current facility about 20 years ago and we have been struggling to get by since then.

Our District has continued to grow over the last 20 years, and while we've tried to keep our staff numbers down, in order to adequately serve our community, Council staff numbers have grown too. With population growth expected to continue we need to ensure we have a central place for our community and to support staff in delivering outcomes for our District.

While Forum North has served us well, it is far too small for the staff we need for a district our size, meaning we have had to rent more space and spread our staff across separate locations – which is really inefficient and costly to the ratepayer.

We looked at extending and refurbishing the existing building, but because of its design (and the cost to bring it up to current building and earthquake standards) this was going to be the most expensive option.

This civic building will be a community hub for all local government-related activity, with enough space to house all of our current staff under one roof, while providing an open and engaging customer interface. First and foremost, the civic centre is about bringing our team together in one building and enabling us to deliver a more efficient service for our community. 

What happens in a civic centre?

A civic centre is a hub for all local government-related activities.

There will be a customer service centre, Council Chambers and offices for our District's staff – the things that are in every local government building around the world.

Whangārei's civic centre will be where we draw up plans and strategies to support future growth and to make Whangārei a desirable place to live, play and work.

Essentially, a civic centre is where everything that needs to be done in order for our city to function in a positive and productive way gets done.

We want to make the new civic building as welcoming and accessible as budget allows, so our whole community finds it easy to interact with Council staff – whether that's talking to a Councillor, making enquiries about your property or our services, applying to do something or attending a meeting.

How much is the project costing, and what does that include?

The Civic Centre project has a total budget of $59 million, including contingency funding. The budget will cover construction and base fitout costs of this project, including: 

  • $3.4 million land purchase from Returned and Services Association (RSA)
  • demolition
  • architectural design and building plans
  • resource consents and building consents
  • access and parking
  • internal fit-out, and
  • building construction.

The original budget that was allowed for in the 2018 - 2028 Long Term Plan was $38 million for a building with a footprint of 5000sqm. At a full Council meeting on 27 February 2020, Council moved to increase the size to 8000sqm, with a budget increase of $48 million.

This change in scope future-proofs the construction for the high projected growth of Whangārei District (revealed in the latest Census data). The larger footprint also allows for the Northland Transportation Alliance to be housed within the Whangarei District Council civic space.

In an acknowledgement of global construction cost pressures relating to COVID-19, on 23 June 23, Council revised the budget for this project to a total of $59 million, including a contingency budget.

While some COVID-19 issues (such as Auckland lockdowns) have had a direct impact on this project, there have been many indirect issues, including contracts needing to be extended, use of scaffolding, propping and security due to the site being shut down, and the well-publicised increase in construction material costs.

Supply chains have been affected. Sub-contractors and equipment had to be substituted due to Auckland border lockdowns. Some components were airfreighted at a higher cost as pandemic-affected shipping timeframes would have otherwise meant their supply and installation would be late.

We will be totally transparent about the cost of this new community asset – which is why we have grouped all costs together in one place – rather than break it into smaller bits.

We're one of the largest organisations in Whangārei, so putting us all into one home is a big project!

Why aren't we using local contractors?

In short, we are!

The lead contract was won by Canam Commercial, who have been doing an increasing amount of work in Northland and want to use our project as a springboard to establish a permanent operation in Whangārei. We're sitting at an average of 84% local contractors, suppliers and consultants onsite, you can see a list of some of these companies below.  

We have also established a partnership with NorthTec to ensure a minimum of 10% (we're currently averaging 15%) of all workers onsite are local apprentices or trainees. That means that one in every ten people working on the new civic building will be either learning a new trade, or getting practical experience in a trade they're currently studying.

In fact, there are already many local firms on the team, and the intention is to use as many other local trades (e.g. tiling, painting etc.) as possible. One way or another, there will be plenty of locals employed on this project.

Here's a brief list of some of the local contractors, suppliers and consultants currently involved in the project: 

Local contractors

  • Barfoote Construction
  • Treescape
  • Culham Engineering
  • McKay Electrical
  • Airzone
  • Gasworks & Plumbing
  • Northland Scaffold
  • Traffic Management NZ

Local consultants

  • Cuesco
  • Littoralis Landscape Architecture
  • Cato Bolam
  • Reyburn and Bryant
  • Telfer Young
  • Matakohe Architecture Urbanism
  • Landform Consulting
  • JAS Civil (sub consultant to T&T fro proof piling)
  • Geometria

Local suppliers

  • Carters
  • Hirepool Whangārei
  • Northland Waste

Named as Beacon Award Finalist

Whangārei’s Civic Centre Project was named as one of three finalists in the 2021 New Zealand Beacon Awards, alongside KiwiRail and New Plymouth District Council.

Beacon Projects are awarded by the Construction Accord (a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and major construction companies) and are recognised as examples of good practice and innovation in the construction sector.

The judges involved with the Civic Centre Project appreciated the community outcomes this project delivered. They were blown away by the results in terms of women on site and subcontractor engagement, seeing this as a story that can support transformation and boost construction’s mana in communities.

This building will be owned by our community, as a hub for civic facilities and services. We wanted this project built using a collaborative model. Local hapū were identified early as a key project partner, and cultural narratives are incorporated into the design of the building and surrounds. It’s important to us to have Northlanders working on a Northland project.

The project has had up to 20% female workers onsite, and the target of using 80% local subcontractors has already been exceeded.

Each business or subcontractor on this project has committed to 10% trainee or apprentices, we’re currently hitting 17%. This will make an enduring difference to this project while developing talent and capability in our local communities. 



9 Rust Ave, Whangārei 0140  View Map

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