No rush to secure Tauranga Racecourse’s future

Future use of the Tauranga Racecourse Reserve is under the spotlight. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

“We don’t have to rush it.”

Tauranga City Council commission chair Anne Tolley is talking about deciding the fate of the Tauranga Racecourse Reserve.

In a council meeting today, commissioners were presented with the Greerton Maarawaewae Study update, that outlined the community engagement and analysis of options for future use of the site.

Commissioners decided to delay decision making beyond the recommendation of June, to enable further consultation with the community and other key stakeholders.

The 85 hectares of crown land administered by council is currently leased by Racing Tauranga and the Tauranga Golf Club.

The land was permanently reserved as a recreation ground and racecourse in the late 1800s and the clubs have a lease until 2039.

The Greerton Maarawaewae Study sought feedback on how the land could best be used in 10 to 50 years’ time.

There were 1500 pieces of feedback received between the council’s two community engagement processes.

Commission chair Anne Tolley. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Tolley was concerned by the lack of responses.

“We really only got about 1500 odd people taking part in the process, so it worries me that this is quite a significant process for the area,” she said.

Tolley suggested further public consultation and hearings once the preferred options were chosen.

“Just thinking about how we might ensure that people get every opportunity to give us their thoughts.

“We don't have to rush this decision, there’s no urgency around it,” she said.

Tolley acknowledged the purpose of the Greerton Maarawaewae study was to provide certainty to current users.

“The current users … don't have perpetual leases, there is a finite time.

“They want to invest capital in their facilities, so they need to have that certainty of long-term tenure.”

Council also presented commissioners with the four preferred options that were shortlisted through multi criteria analysis. None of these options include retaining the racecourse.

The highest ranked option includes health services and active recreation while keeping the golf course.

Homes and a community park was ranked second, this would require the golf course and racecourse to be relocated.

Council programme director of urban communities Carl Lucca said the criteria took into account the community engagement and the city’s needs as it grows.

Council’s most recent engagement asked people’s opinions on seven options. They received around 750 pieces of feedback.

The options included leaving the land as is, an enhanced use of the space by adding active recreational facilities and a community centre, while retaining the golf course and race course.

The other options removed the racecourse while retaining the golf course and added a community centre, two included housing and the final option included a health services site with active recreation.

The two housing options included up to 1500 new homes and the potential for a school. One option retained the golf course, the other removed it and added a destination park.  

The addition of housing to the land is a “sensitive trigger” for mana whenua and would prompt a Treaty of Waitangi claim.

Representatives of Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū lodged a claim via the Treaty of Waitangi Act in February.

The reserve land is currently zoned as a passive open space and is further identified as a scheduled site to be protected as open space and for recreation activities

Ngāi Tamarāwaho representative Buddy Mikaere. File image/SunLive.

Hapū representative Buddy Mikaere told Local Democracy Reporting if the status were to change it would activate the claim.

The land was confiscated after the Battle of Gate Pa in 1865 and because the land was being used for public good, the hapū didn’t pursue it as part of their treaty settlement, said Mikaere.

“The claim [lodged in February] just sits there. But once the crown does something, so for example, housing, then the claim is triggered,” he said.

“So we want to have a conversation with them about why doesn't it come back to us in the first instance?”

Mikaere is also a Racing Tauranga trustee and wants to see the racecourse continue its 150 year history on the site.

“The initial reasoning, for establishing it as a recreational reserve was because it was a racecourse.
“It's got a long heritage and a long history in Tauranga,” he said.

Racing in the Bay of Plenty is also under the spotlight from New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR).

The NZTR Directions Paper said: “NZTR has met with Racing Rotorua and Racing Tauranga and encouraged them to work together on what the future of racing will be for the Bay of Plenty region.”

“NZTR is of the view that thoroughbred racing in the region may be
best sustained in the long-term if there is only one venue for racing in the region.”

acing Tauranga chairman Carl McComb wants Racing Tauranga's lease extended beyond 2039. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Racing Tauranga chairman Carl McComb told Local Democracy Reporting the club’s preference was to continue racing on the reserve but they were happy to have discussions with Racing Rotorua and NZTR.

“We support the nationwide racing reform work and are in proactive talks with the industry as the Bay of Plenty has a strong future in racing,” he said.

McComb said retaining the status quo or keeping the racecourse and adding in extra community amenities would make the current track a viable option.

“We recognise that enhanced community use has got to be factored in.”

“It’s beneficial to bring forward these long term industry discussions to align with the Maarawaewae Study.”

As part of this council is participating in a cross-organisational working party to identify potential sites for a sub-regional equine racing facility with NZTR and Racing Tauranga.

Council will undertake further engagement with mana whenua and existing
Tauranga Racecourse Reserve users before reporting back to the commission in June.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air.

 
 




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4 Comments

@ Let's get real

Posted on 12-04-2022 20:51 | By Yadick

You’re exactly right. The past seems more important than the future. You can’t move forward looking in the rear view mirror.

Absolutely pathetic

Posted on 12-04-2022 10:54 | By Let's get real

Ngai Tamarawaho has an opportunity to advance the quality of life for their future generations, but they’d rather have a few free golf club memberships and a position on a board of directors and threatened legal proceedings. I wonder how the homeless feel...?

Hmmm

Posted on 11-04-2022 22:02 | By Yadick

It seems if you’re unhappy with a decision you just put it against the TOW . . .

racecourse

Posted on 11-04-2022 19:31 | By dumbkof2

not what tolly wants so more discussion needed

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