New luxury spa and wellness centre to open in Rotorua
The development of a new luxury spa and wellness centre on Rotorua’s lakefront will reinforce Rotorua’s position on the global stage as a spa and wellness destination, while creating new jobs and boosting the local economy by tens of millions of dollars a year.
Offering a significant acknowledgement to the reason the city was established in the first place, Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa is set to put Rotorua on track to becoming the spa and wellness capital of the Southern Hemisphere.
The latest development by Pukeroa Oruawhata Group, Wai Ariki is due to open in late 2019 with preliminary earthworks commencing later this year. The facility will form just one element of the wider health and wellness vision for the Group’s 11 hectare site on Rotorua’s lakefront.
Pukeroa Oruawhata chairman, Malcolm Short says Ngāti Whakaue, Te Arawa and Māori culture sit at the heart of Wai Ariki, with the 650-year history of the tribe and Rotorua’s spa heritage forming an intrinsic part of the development.
Mr Short says the name Wai Ariki means “chiefly waters”, and is a reminder of the origin of Rotorua’s thermal waters, which were called to Aotearoa New Zealand by Ngatoroirangi.
Wai Ariki will have elements of Māori culture infused throughout, including the design of the building and its unique spa and wellness offerings. Consistent with maintaining a strong linkage to the tribe, the unique brand has been developed by Ngāti Whakaue local, Inia Maxwell.
“While specific details around Wai Ariki and its offerings remain commercially sensitive, we are confident this development is something which Rotorua, and in fact New Zealand, has never seen before,” says Mr Short.
“Our vision for a health and wellness campus at the Rotorua lakefront includes a range of different services and offerings, including dedicated space for a clinical and rehabilitation provider.”
The estimated benefit to the Rotorua economy will be measured in the tens of millions of dollars a year, says Pukeroa Oruawhata Group director and finance and expenditure chairman, David Tapsell.
“With an estimated build cost of over $30 million, this is a significant undertaking for us so we have taken our time to plan this out,” says Mr Tapsell.
“As an iwi led development on iwi land, Wai Ariki will improve employment for local people, including Ngāti Whakaue.
“In addition to the jobs created over the next two years as we build the complex, Wai Ariki will initially employ 35 staff, increasing to 80 staff in time, creating significant employment opportunities for our people,” says Mr Tapsell.
Mr Short says Wai Ariki will be managed by Australian-based company, Belgravia Leisure, who will be recruiting and employing staff locally.
“We recognise the importance of partnering with a business that has expertise in spa and wellness, and Belgravia offers a wealth of experience in these areas. Importantly, it has the systems and processes required to support such a development,” says Mr Short.
Belgravia general manager destination, wellness and spa group, Karen Golden, says Wai Ariki offers a unique blend of culture and wellness, which will deliver an experience she believes is unprecedented on the global stage.
“Wai Ariki’s unique features combine with therapeutic mineral waters to deliver a world class sanctuary, that provides a place to relax, sustain and heal,” says Ms Golden.
“The way that culture has been incorporated throughout the concept, design and product offering, combined with its location and people, provides a level of authenticity which we believe makes it unlike anything else in the world.”
Mr Short emphasises Wai Ariki is set to firmly position Rotorua in the global wellness and spa market, and is about growing the local and national visitor economy for the benefit of Rotorua and New Zealand.
“Importantly, Wai Ariki is focused on extending the destination’s existing spa, health, wellness and visitor experiences, prompting visitors to stay longer, and experience more, in Rotorua.”
 Ngatoroirangi, the great Ariki and tohunga of the Arawa waka, became overcome by snow, ice and wind on the peaks of Tongariro, and prayed to his sisters in Hawaiki to send fire to revive him. Te Pupu and Te Hoata, the subterranean goddesses of fire, made their mark on our land as they desperately searched for their brother. Finally, they reached Ngatoroirangi, bringing heat and fire, and saving him from certain death.