October 1, 2020

Devonport's Visitor Information Centre gets a Hip New Look!

The Devonport Business Association (DBA) in partnership with the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board and Devonport Rotary Club are excited to announce the debut of the Devonport Visitor Information Centre Caravan.

Five years in the making, the idea of a caravan was born not long after, Fiona Startup of BookMark, joined the DBA Board of Governance in 2015. “Initially a response to the on-going uncertainty around a permanent venue for the Devonport Visitor Information Centre (VIC), the idea of a having our local VIC inside a retro caravan seemed the perfect fit for Devonport’s heritage and hip vibe”, said Fiona.

As a small Business Improvement District (BID), there has always been little room in the DBA budget to afford rent. Once located at 3 Victoria Road and, most recently, in The Arcade, the DBA is grateful to have been offered the use of these commercial spaces. With uncertainty around how long those spaces could be occupied and at what financial cost however, it was thought that a caravan would be a permanent option for the Information Centre, needing only a suitable place to park it.

Finally, with the announcement of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada being contested in our beautiful backyard, the DBA had the leverage needed to apply for funding. “After having kept the idea alive for several years, I was very excited to be given the opportunity to take on the project and make it a reality”, says Startup.

The New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, through their Community Benefit to the 2021 America’s Cup fund, generously awarded funding to the project on the grounds that it would benefit the community and Aotearoa by way of Auckland hosting the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada.

The Devonport Rotary Club, a local non-profit organisation whose volunteer members perform charitable works either by direct hands-on efforts or by raising money for local and international projects, loved the idea of a cool and custom mobile information centre. Seeing it as an opportunity to support the community and the potential for it to become a village attraction, the Devonport Rotary Club generously contributed the remaining cost to purchase the beautiful, 13-foot, 1974 light weight caravan and get the project underway. 

After extensive consultation, the award winning team at Retro Custom Caravans in Whakatane (“Get Rhythm” won the “Beach Hop Best Caravan” award in 2013) were given the nod to source and refit a suitable caravan to a design worked out between VIC Volunteer Co-ordinator, Judy Birkett and Fiona Startup.

Retro Custom Caravans tweaked the design and added a number of retro flourishes, like the cute porthole window, the custom finished fridge, step stool, as well as beautiful chrome detailing throughout.

Upon seeing it for the first time this week, Birkett said, “With a lovely Kiwiana feel, it will be an asset to the community and visitors alike. The fit out is amazing and we are looking forward to seeing the outside artwork."

The retrofit complete, the caravan now needs an amazing, unique and intrinsically Devonport exterior. To ensure durability, longevity and to inspire creativity to those who see it, hand painting has been chosen over plastic wraps. Twice winner of the international “Write4Gold” graffiti art competition, Auckland street artist Jonny 4Higher has been selected. Jonny has an impressive portfolio, extensive experience in hand painting the exterior of vehicles, many done before a live audience.

And that’s just what he is going to do!

We invite everyone to visit us in Devonport Village this weekend (Friday, 2nd October through Sunday, 4th October) as Jonny transforms our plain cream caravan into a unique work of art

And because every retro caravan needs a name! Children up to 12 years are invited to “Name our Caravan”. We encourage you to think about what the caravan is for, what makes it unique, what it’s “personality” will be? Share your special caravan name and tell us why you chose it to be entered.

Forms and a ballot box will be available at the painting site and will extend online until October 30th. Entries will be judged by a panel of representatives from the various organisations who, together, made the caravan a reality. The winning name will be announced at an official “Caravan Opening” in the near future.

For her dedication the community of Devonport and her passion in bringing this project to life, a very special thanks to Fiona Startup. You have created a beautiful legacy for Devonport.

For complete details, visit the DBA website. To follow the painting progress and to cast your “Name our Caravan” entry online, follow us at @DevonportVillage on Facebook or Instagram.

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