As the year 2017 draws ever closer to its inevitable end, the island is looking forward to the opening of two new facilities in the new year 2018.These are the new museum and cultural centre and the new shopping complex at Fonuakula.
Taoga Museum and Cultural Centre
You can’t blame Taoga Director Moira Enetama for being up-beat and excited. “We’re in for some exciting times ahead”, she said to me, showing me a model of the new Centre. “This has been a long time coming!” Indeed, after years of discussions, of endless meetings and planning, it is hard to believe that it is finally happening. After 14 years following the destruction of the Huanaki Museum and Cultural Centre – the focal point of the island’s cultural welfare – the island will have a brand new centre in June 2018.
It would be fair to say that, post cyclone Heta, the government’s priority was to rebuild the infrastructure necessary to sustain life; electricity, water, transportation, communications, health and education services. Cultural welfare was kept on the back burner.
In 2004 Prime Minister Helen Clarke, on a special visit to Niue, planted a coconut tree to signal the beginning of the Taoga Niue project on the proposed site next to the Niue High School at Paliati. Unfortunately when a site survey was undertaken some time later, deep crevices were discovered which made it unsafe to build there. A new site had to be found; more delays.
When the Niue Primary School closed at Halamahaga in 2015, government identified part of the grounds as the site for the new centre. As with most major projects on the island it was New Zealand who provided the funding. Having thus identified the site – the old Early Childhood Education building and former Side School – the next challenge was to find a builder.
Enter DTB Construction Ltd, a company based in Auckland, who just happened to be on the island on another project. Tala Niue understands that there was another company showing an interest in the project but their estimated cost exceeded available funding. DTB Construction were prepared to work within the budget on offer.
The move to the new Centre will not be undertaken at one go. It will be gradual move. The intention is that in April/May next year, the headquarters of the Education Department will gradually make the move to Paliati to occupy the two buildings now housing Taoga Niue and the Museum. Taoga will in turn move into the old Education Department office to await the moment for the final move to the new Centre. After 14 years of waiting, for Moira Enetama and her staff, the move could not have come soon enough.
New Shopping Complex
Three kilometres to the south of the main village of Alofi, on the top road to Fonuakula, directly opposite Fale Gahua Fakatufono another building is taking shape – the new Swanson Shopping complex. The intention is to have the complex completed by February next year but that may be revised according to the local manager of Swanson, Amanda Pita.
In addition to the supermarket itself, there will 10 bays available for lease for any local retailers or service provider. The government bond store – the island’s only liquor importer is understood to be leasing one of the bays.