Workshops and individual meetings were held in July and August 2019 with leaders from the environmental community, education providers, researchers, Māori, the tourism industry and youth (12-24 year olds). These brought together diverse thinkers to contribute to redefining what could be in a new aquarium. Their ideas fed into the business case, which was presented to central government in late 2019.
We want to share with you a summary of the themes and ideas that came from the workshop participants.
Conservation and environmental themes:
It must be honest – about the state of the planet, habitats and ecosystems.
It must truly represent the actual environmental needs of animals.
There must be strong conservation action taken by aquarium staff onsite, the organisation as a whole, and our community (with aquarium support).
The need for it to have the wow factor to not only bring in numbers but initiate behavioural change.
It could be a watchdog for aquatic ecosystems.
It must be an eco-building. The whole process must be environmentally friendly.
It needs to be a rescue and rehabilitation centre – save animals and teach conservation.
Galleries, libraries, aquariums, museums and zoos are all spaces for learning. It’s time to start thinking beyond schools as the centre of education.
Accessibility is key for low income communities and schools so that tamariki can also engage in new learning and education.
Design all spaces with learning and education in mind.
Experiential learning opportunities will be a point of difference and deliver value within the education system – and appeal to wider audiences.
Play a role in vocational education and training for maritime related employment.
Strong agreement on the role that a national facility/aquarium could play in being a ‘hub’ to support smaller, dispersed marine conservation and citizen science projects nationally.
Be a centre of excellence bringing in national and international expertise for particular areas e.g. wetlands, deep sea exploration and mapping, migratory birds and fish.
Present aquatic life through appropriately introducing and explaining Te Ao Māori.
Throughout the exhibits, there needs to be a clear relationship of scientific findings and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems).
Present iwi stories that allow for the variances between iwi. Bring different stories together, understand the differences and gain permission from iwi.
Present our place in the Pacific and other Pacific nations.
A new National Aquarium would be beneficial to the New Zealand tourism sector, particularly the domestic market.
The international market demand for marine species such as whales, dolphins, penguins and seals was raised as to how this might link or compete with experiences like Whale Watch Kaikoura.
There is strong perspective that people are not seeking tamed iconic marine species, their preference is to engage in the natural environment.
The new aquarium should stand at same level nationally as Te Papa i.e. under an Act of Parliament.
Exhibits where visitors can safely interact with fish/animals so that people can connect with them rather than just looking at them.
Exciting use of technology - virtual reality voyaging on a waka experience (relying on the stars to navigate); or a tsunami experience or scuba diving experience.
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