Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai says a new Maori cultural centre planned for the city will be a major asset.
The council has granted $500,000 to the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust to launch the first stage of its project at the Town Basin precinct.
Ms Mai said with the Hundertwasser Wairau Maori arts centre at one end and the cultural centre at the other, the area will be a magnet for visitors and locals.
The council grant will go towards a carving centre and waka shelter beside Whangarei harbour and enable the trust to apply to major charities to advance the project.
The trust has been planning for years to build a complex on the Hihiaua peninsula, just east of the Town Basin Marina.
Trust chair Richard Drake has said the master carver Te Warihi Hetaraka has been working and teaching in an old shed on the site and an initial grant would give the carvers a proper home.
He said the first stage of the project involved the revamping of the shed so it was a safe place to work and a safe place to visit.