Annual Plan 2023/24

Submissions closed on 30 April 2023, 11:59 PM

Rotokawau Virginia Lake Reserve

Submissions closed on Sunday, 30 April 2023.

Annual Plan 2023/2024 consultation

Each year the council produces an annual plan which sets out how the council’s work will be funded. We calculate the cost of delivering and funding a range of activities, then work out the amount of rates we need to collect. The cost to deliver our services has increased dramatically in the last year. 

Councillors are acutely aware of the cost of living increases for households. They’ve gone through the council books line by line to get rates as low as possible while still delivering on what makes Whanganui a great place to live.

The average rates rise proposed is 8.2 percent. For an average residential property, the increase will be about an extra $5 per week.

The consultation document(PDF, 3MB) outlines information on key project updates, information about rates, the QV property revaluation, and provides an opportunity for the community to give feedback on the future of the aviary and any other topic they wish to provide feedback on. 

You can read more about the proposed cost cuts and deferrals for next year in the consultation document(PDF, 3MB). 


An independent review of the Rotokawau Virginia Lake aviary was completed in February 2023 by a qualified zoologist. The review found the aviary does not meet best practice standards for animal health and welfare. The zoologist’s report says significant updates to the aviary structure and layout, as well as increased staffing, are required to meet best practice standards of care for the birds.

Some key issues highlighted in the zoologist’s report

  • the aviary is not big enough for the types and numbers of birds present
  • in some areas the aviary lacks adequate natural light, ventilation, and a sufficient number of clean drinking sources
  • the birds demonstrate behavioural issues which may indicate a lack of stimulation from their environment
  • many of the birds are aging, for example, one of the cockatoos is estimated to be nearly 70 years old
  • the birds require a higher standard of care than what is available in the current enclosure
  • the aviary is not providing educational outcomes for the public
  • the purpose of the aviary is limited to simply viewing birds. The aviary’s design could be improved to offer a better visitor experience of the facility, including improved accessibility, safety, comfort and educational opportunities.


Key actions needed to meet best practice standards of care

  • increase the size of the aviary to allow for adequate enrichment and provide space
  • for different social groupings and isolations of birds
  • build a structure to allow adequate space for preparation of food, storage and recordkeeping
  • increase staffing levels so the birds are adequately monitored throughout the day and after hours. 


Consultation options 

Keeping the aviary open in its current format is not a viable option because it doesn’t meet animal welfare standards. Making small changes to the current facility would not be sufficient either, for the same reasons.

In light of this, there are three viable options presented for the future of the Rotokawau Virginia Lake aviary. 

Option 1: Investment in the aviary to both improve animal welfare standards and the visitor/educational experience (at an estimated combined capital and operating cost of $750,000 for next year)

Option 2: Investment in the aviary to address animal welfare standards only – (at an estimated combined capital and operating cost of $400,000 for next year) – our preferred option

Option 3: Closure of the aviary (at an estimated one-off cost of $75,000)

Find the full details of the options in the consultation document and make a submission.

We also consulted on changes to fees and charges to ensure they are reflective of the actual cost to deliver the services.