Treaty claim likely if hospital put on racecourse

The council is consulting one three options for the future of the Greerton Racecourse Reserve. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

The future of Tauranga's racecourse is once again out for public consultation, but council's preferred option could trigger a Treaty of Waitangi claim.

The Tauranga City Council led Greerton Maarawaewae Study has been looking at future options for the Greerton Racecourse Reserve.

Racing Tauranga, Tauranga Equestrian Sports Association and the Tauranga Golf Club occupy the 85 hectares of crown reserve land and have leases that expire in 2039.

The council is consulting on three options: Option A includes a health precinct, sports fields and the golf course - this is the council's preferred option. It includes a fallback provision that if the health precinct isn't approved it will revert to Option B.

Option B is a large central park with sports fields, community spaces and connection to Kopurererua Valley, the golf course would remain but the racecourse and equestrian facilities would be relocated.

Option C is an enhanced status quo with the current users remaining but sports fields and connection to Kopurererua Valley are added.

Option A: Health and recreation. Image: Tauranga City Council.

Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū representative Buddy Mikaere told Local Democracy Reporting the hapū's preference is Option C and that a change in the reserve's status would trigger a treaty claim.

'Anything else which involves a change of status for the reserve will trigger our treaty claim,” he said.

Mana whenua, Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū representatives lodged a claim via the Treaty of Waitangi Act in February.

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

He said if the land were to be used for health services that would mean breaking the current lease the racecourse holds.

Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū representative Buddy Mikaere. File photo/SunLive.

'That is going to involve some legislation, but whatever form that takes it is a change in status and so will trigger our claim. So [we] might as well have the land back.”

The council was advised in November 2021 that Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand was interested in using the reserve land as a site for potential health services.
Chief Executive of Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty Pete Chandler said: 'A growing Bay of Plenty population and a need to respond to significant seismic issues on the current hospital campus means we need to explore opportunities for future-proofing our current health facilities and services”. This may require expansion of the current services he said.

'Identifying a new public hospital location and providing better transport access to serve the growing Tauranga and Western Bay area would ensure that planning for the future of the health system is not constrained to the current site,” said Chandler.

He added that locating a new public hospital on the reserve land could also potentially open up the current hospital campus site for medium to high density housing in the long term.

Until June, having housing on the racecourse reserve was an option, but the commissioners decided to remove all options for housing from the land on the advice of council staff.

Housing would have also triggered a treaty claim from Ngāi Tamarāwaho, said Mikaere.

Commission chair Anne Tolley told Local Democracy Reporting the hapū were 'very generous” not to pursue the racecourse reserve in their treaty settlement.

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

When asked if threat of a treaty claim was a large part of removing housing as an option, Tolley replied: 'No, because they're quite entitled to do that”.

'We certainly understood their thinking.

'They were in tune with the community that this should be about recreation. This space should be about open space, green space and recreation,” she said.

'That was a very clear message we got from the community that it shouldn't be built over.”

This is the third round of community engagement in the Greerton Maarawaewae Stud that was launched in October 2021 to decide the best potential use for the land to meet the city's needs as it grows.

The latest three options were decided on by the commissioners in June and have been whittled down from 10 using public feedback and multi assessment criteria that weighted the strategic needs of Tauranga.

Public submissions on the options can be made from July 27 until August 29.

In November, submissions will be heard by the commissioners at hearings, with a decision on the future use of the reserve land earmarked for December.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

You may also like....


Ludicrous choice for hospital

Posted on 26-07-2022 17:23 | By jed

The obvious spot for a new hospital is out near the eastern link motorway. It can take sometimes take over an hour to get to the hospital from Mt Maunganui....and once, it took us 3 hours when that truck rolled on Hewletts/Totara. With the high population grow out towards Papamoa, and, the proximity to Rotorua and Whakatane, it makes more sense to build a second hospital closer to Paengaroa. This takes pressure off Tauranga hospital and delays the need to expand.


Posted on 26-07-2022 17:27 | By Bruja

This MADNESS has to end!!!! This country will be broke and divided beyond all recognition if this PC madness doesn't end. ENOUGH!!!!! No more! One people, one country.

Plenty of land elsewhere

Posted on 26-07-2022 17:36 | By Womby

The area continues to attract more people so think outside the square, build a new hospital close to one of the new expressway,or a future planned one so access and parking is easy. The current hospital has a reasonable footprint but certainly could be many stories higher for future updates Does it have to be all on one site?

This council isn't

Posted on 26-07-2022 17:41 | By Kancho

As referred to is not a council it is a Labour appointed commission that just like the government is riding rough shod over local democracy. As to a land claim blocking a hospital surely a retrograde mi step for all


Posted on 26-07-2022 18:01 | By Let's get real

The lack of forward thinking is absolutely amazing. The section of our community that is always "over-represented" in statistics around the country for poor health outcomes, are the very same section of the community that don't want to assist in resolving the situation. Pull your heads out of the sand and stop threatening reprisals like silly little schoolchildren. In my opinion the future of the future generations of Maori families is being put in jeopardy by not developing this land, used for elitist activities, into Maori housing and health care systems that will bring in many times more income for descendants through rental agreements and improvements that could be recouped at the end of a lease of the land for say 99 years.


Posted on 26-07-2022 18:50 | By Positiveme

Why don't they utilise the old RSA buildings near the hodpital to build a new hospital. That area is huge and under developed

Isn't health a public good

Posted on 27-07-2022 01:05 | By katikatinudist

They said "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. "He said if the land were to be used for health services that would mean breaking the current lease the racecourse holds." --- So how can they now say if the land is used for health services they want it back. Isn't health service's a use for public good????


Posted on 27-07-2022 13:58 | By morepork

It isn't the fact that it could be used for Health services that is objected to. It is the buildings encroaching on one of the last green spaces for our city. Option C provides for enhancing the existing facilities and it is the option that makes the most sense. I am not a golfer (I do like going to the races occasionally) but the fact that we have those options is a part of our well-being. The hapu are right to defend these facilities and I support them 100%. The high-handed attitude of Queen Anne and her cronies does nothing to help the situation. The sooner we get rid of this unelected Commission, the better for Tauranga. You can bet that after their "review", they will do what they always intended and I hope the Hapu sues them over it.


Posted on 28-07-2022 15:11 | By Yadick

I wonder who will staff a new hospital facility especially when we can't staff the hospital we have already?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.