Privatisation of Chamberlain Park Means Uncertain Future

Partial privatisation of Chamberlain could result from CityVision plan

Chamberlain Park could end up in private control as the Council seeks ways to fund CityVision’s $30,000,000 redevelopment plan for the 32ha inner city asset.

In a request for a proposal sent out to private consultants last week by Council the overview stated: “Commercial or partnership opportunities and options to reduce costs or increase revenue are also to be investigated as part of a detailed business case.”

Save Chamberlain Park Inc said that seeking external funding from the private sector was the “thin end of the wedge” that could lead to partial privatisation for this iconic and well used asset that has been a public 18-hole golf course for 80 years. It was shocking that such an outcome might result from CityVision that purports to be a Labour Green alliance and who’s routes have traditionally supported the low income sector of the community. Chamberlain Park is a working class golf course.

Inviting proposals to externally fund or support redevelopment plans that includes cutting the golf course in half will almost certainly have financial implications for future users. Currently Chamberlain Park, one of only two public 18-hole golf courses servicing the entire Auckland region, is the home of the casual golfer and for those who cannot, or do not want to, afford to join a private club.

In the financial year ending 30 June 2019, Chamberlain Park recorded over 63,000 rounds of golf and made a cash surplus of $340,000. Chamberlain Park is one of the busiest golf courses in the country.

Under private control, commercial returns will need to be achieved and that will more than likely cut out many of the existing users of the park, for two reasons:

  1. Once reduced to 9 holes, the course will be unable to sustain those numbers, but the private ownership model will require more profit

  2. Due to extra waiting times the player numbers will reduce, and so the price will rise, but the value will be halved. The addition of a driving range will make up for a portion of this loss, but ultimately ‘golfing' numbers will most likely drop to an unaffordable level.

If a commercial operator fails to make a success of this it will expose the park to further development from future local boards who may feel that housing is a better use of the area than a nine hole golf course; thus reducing valuable open space in the Auckland isthmus.

It should also be noted that no other sports fields (apart from golf courses) in Auckland provide a return to Council, and neither are they expected to. Put another way golfers are effectively being asked to fund via their green fees to a commercial operator the other activities proposed under the masterplan at the park such as the two artificial turf sports fields that will soak up $16,000,000 of the proposed $30,000,000 redevelopment price tag.

Nowhere in the tender proposal is any consideration given to the environment with words used to determine the “financial” the “commercial” and the “management” cases. However, using the masterplan Save Chamberlain Park has counted more than 1,000 mature trees that will have to be removed to achieve what is being proposed resulting in a significant environmental impact on bird-life and their habitats. This Council declared a so-called Climate Emergency, so this destruction is

blatant hypocrisy. While young people around the world march for the environment the Auckland Council and CityVision effectively thumb their noses at them.

Save Chamberlain Park objected to an Indicative Business Plan that was tabled at a Governing Body of Council meeting in July this year. There is incorrect and misleading information in the report stating that golf numbers at Chamberlain Park are on the decline. This is blatantly untrue. Similarly, no reference was made to NZ Golf’s extensive research stating that golf numbers in NZ are increasing amongst all ages. To date, there have been no environmental or biodiversity studies, no consultation with Auckland Traffic, no cultural or heritage studies. In fact, there are no empirically based studies undertaken to support the masterplan. The economic case reveals a $26m benefit (over a 34-year period) against immediate costs of $29.7m. On financial grounds alone this redevelopment does not stack up.

In spite of this, the Albert Eden Councillor Cathy Casey (and CityVision leader) was able to convince fellow councillors (13 votes to 7) to proceed with the masterplan. Now around $1,000,000 is earmarked to be spent on justifying the redevelopment. Much of this outlay will end up as consultancy fees.

Save Chamberlain Park has tabled an alternative plan that can achieve all the proposed benefits of

the masterplan and more. The only thing the alternative plan does not provide for is the two sports fields and the recently included swimming pool complex that seems to be back on the table. Ends Geoff Senescall Chair of Save Chamberlain Park Inc 021481234

Here is a list of how councillors voted for Cathy Casey’s proposal at the Environment and Community Committee meeting in July 2019

Voted for $1m to be spent on a business plan J Bartley, R Blair, C Casey, B Cashmore, R Clow, L Cooper, C Darby, A Filipaina, R Hills, P Hulse, D Newman, J Walker, J Watson

Voted Against J Brown, C Fletcher, M Lee, G Sayers, S Stewart, W Walker, P Young Abstained D Simpson

Friends of Fowlds's Park dealings with City Vision


Helen Coyte, Chair of Friends of Fowld's Park writes of her experience dealing with the City Vision Controlled Albert Eden Local Board. Of note also, she has tried twice to put her letter on the Mt Albert Community FB Page and twice they have taken it down. Is that democratic? These issues should be debated!


Apologies, this is a long post. Please take the time to read to the end.

There’s been a lot of talk on local Facebook pages about issues that affect how people vote in the upcoming local body elections. As such, I thought I’d take some time to outline my (and Friends of Fowlds Park) experience in dealing with council and the Albert Eden local board. I am not telling you who to vote for, but asking that you look very carefully at the candidates, what they stand for and how they operate.

Friends of Fowlds Park was formed around 6 years ago when the Local Board made a decision to “upgrade” the park by way of a crumb rubber artificial turf and a 3.5m high concrete retaining wall running the length of the 2 fields below. Their reasoning behind this upgrade was the extreme shortage of sports fields in the Albert Eden board area.

A small group of local residents decided it was worth fighting to retain the character and amenity value of Fowlds Park. We were opposed on all sides - the sports clubs believed they needed this upgrade, neighbours were divided (many believed we needed it too and others didn’t want to rock the boat, most were apathetic). So we went into battle as underdogs.

Here is a list of facts about the sports field capacity data that the local board are basing all the decisions to chop up local parks and fill them with sports fields: The statistics take into account only the sports fields in the Albert Eden Area and not those just over the borders in Whau, Puketapapa and Waitemata. The data is based on people only travelling short distances (15-20 minutes) to their sports. People know to choose clubs where they don’t get stuck in traffic getting to and from. It also does not consider the fact that many people have historic and familial connections to sports clubs and will continue to travel to them despite not living in the area. The consultancy company employed by Auckland council to gain this information (which was for Auckland wide) made the assumption that ALL teams require a full field for training. This would be lovely in a perfect world, but is not a necessity and not something that the sports clubs expect or need. They often have several teams training on one field at once. If all of the existing sports fields in Albert Eden were upgraded with hybrid turf (as in Fowlds and Gribblehirst Parks) there would be no shortfall.

The City Vision members of our local board have consistently based their arguments on the shortage of sports fields in the area and will not acknowledge that there are flaws in the data that cause it to be skewed.

So, based on these flaws and the fact that Fowlds Park has historic and amenity value that were worth protecting, we put forward our case. We made submissions against the proposal, took part in the consultation process and took our case to the local board and our local councillors as well as our then MP, David Shearer. Still, the decision was made to install crumbed rubber and a bloody great wall!

We went to the resource consent hearing. At the end of the 3 day resource consent hearing the planning department of council and the council’s own landscape architect agreed that the plan was ill-thought out and had adverse effects on the amenity value of the park and changed their recommendation to not approve consent. Despite this, the independent commissioners still approved the consent.

We then appealed the decision to the Environment court. After 2 days of mediation, we went away prepared to go to court. While we were waiting to hear about our day in court, the council withdrew their resource consent and, long story short, went back to the local board with a plan to upgrade the fields with hybrid turf - something FOFP had been advocating all along. The other thing that happened at this stage was that Mt Albert Rugby League (MARL) finally realised they were being sold a lemon and joined forces with FOFP. This was a turning point as we finally had the backing of one of the major stakeholders in the park and of our current MP Jacinda Ardern. So, the result was a good one for all - there are fantastic new lights, a new hybrid turf field and 2 more being upgraded. Most residents and MARL now realise that this was a much better outcome and the original plan would have been disastrous.

However, in all of this process, the City Vision members of our local board have continuously lied and twisted the facts to promote their agenda. And when it didn’t go their way and they finally conceded that hybrid turf was a better plan, they turned it around to say that it was their preference all along and they were never happy with the idea of artificial crumbed rubber. Other members of the local board have since acknowledged that the original plan was a bad one, but the Chair, in particular, has refused to admit that they got it wrong. Their arrogance and egos have been nothing short of astounding.

Throughout this whole process, I have sat in on many local board meetings and have been shocked at how some people (certain stakeholders in the park) have been given so much airtime despite their refusal to engage with other stakeholders and spreading lies and misinformation while others including members of the board have been shut down by the Chair because he didn’t like the way the discussion was going. He has shown no willingness to listen and hear other's points of view and continues to dispute facts. I’ve had the Chair not able to look me in the eye when we had dealings with each other on other community initiatives. This is the sort of petty behaviour we have had to deal with from those who are elected to represent us.

My wish for local politics is that all positions were filled with independent representatives, but I realise that is idealistic. However, it is clear that the minority on the board does not stand a chance while City Vision holds the majority. None seem capable of independent, critical thinking and continue to follow the pack. I’d also like to see the consultation process changed to be more of a chance for stakeholders to suggest ideas rather than being offered plans and told to pick one. If consultation had been carried out properly and competently in the first instance, this whole process should have taken a year and not 6.

Whatever your thoughts are on issues such as the Mt Albert upgrade and Chamberlain Park, City Vision have to be held accountable and have their majority removed so that at least we can have some serious debate and a chance for some more objective decision making.

Thanks for reading this all the way through and giving it some consideration. I’m happy for it to be shared, but please bear in mind that this is just an account of my experience.

Helen Coyte Chair of Friends of Fowlds Park Inc.

Check out the candidate list and how they will vote about Chamberlain Park

New Zealand Golf's position on Chamberlain Park

New Zealand Golf would like to make its position around the Indicative Business Case and Master Plan for Chamberlain Park Golf Course clear. New Zealand Golf see Auckland Council and local boards as key partners in helping us deliver our goal of enriching lives through a love of golf. “We are supportive of Auckland Council and Albert Eden Local Board having a master plan for Chamberlain Park. New Zealand Golf isnot supportive of the current master plan for Chamberlain Park as proposed by the Albert-Eden Local Board.” says Carl Fenton, Senior Relationship Manager for New Zealand Golf. “We believe there has been some positive work completed around the restoration of Meola Creek; we urge Albert-Eden Local Board and Auckland Council to revisit the indicative business case and master plan with greater insight and collaboration. We have the opportunity to develop Chamberlain Park into an integrated community asset with a focus on positive environmental impact, that future generations of Aucklanders can be proud of. The current master plan lacks real intellect and will not serve the community well. Gone are the days where we can carve bits of land apart and not provide integrated solutions.” “As one of the only sports that normally maintains and improves the public land that it is using, we are uniquely placed to offer expertise and assistance through the Golf Sector Environmental Group, and the GEO foundation to help make Chamberlain Park climate-positive,” says Fenton. “It has been achieved at Remuera Golf Club and with Auckland Council declaring a climate emergency we need to take an intelligent approach to what we do with our green space.” New Zealand Golf want to work with Auckland Council and support opening the green space to more users through the smart design with parks and fitness, walking, running, and cycling trails. There is also an opportunity to relocate some like sports which would free up space in other Albert-Eden parks for the two proposed sports fields, at a potential lower cost to ratepayers. Chamberlain Park is one of the busiest courses in the country with 63,000 rounds over the last 12 months as of 30 June 2019, it is a true community asset. It is part of the existing wild link corridor of ecosystems linking biodiversity on Auckland’s east and west coasts. A University of Auckland baseline study of Remuera Golf Course found 99 different plant species, 27 of which were native to New Zealand. Further, the wood vegetation lining the fairways provided a well-connected series of habitats for avian species and other fauna. Golf offers the opportunity for lifelong activity and supports healthier, longer lives for Aucklanders, and offers a genuine lifelong contribution to the prevention of disease. Golf is the largest adult club-based sport in the country with over 500,000 participants. In Auckland there is over 1 million rounds of golf played annually. As the governing body of golf in New Zealand our role is to lead, grow and support the game of Golf in this country. For more information on the GEO Foundation please visit[] For any inquiries please contact: Carl Fenton (+64 27 2275 111) Matt Southerden (+64 27 700 4647)

Speech to the Council's Environment and Community Committee

The Council should not approve the expenditure of $1m of rate payer funds to support a $29.7m project to redevelop what is the busiest golf course in Auckland.

I hope alarm bells are ringing with this new price tag for the indicative business plan that is up 35% on the previous one for the exact same masterplan.

Just to remind you, Chamberlain Park has been an 18 hole public golf course for 80 years. Today it continues to be a golf course that supports the health and wellbeing of largely the working classes – also around 30% of its users are Maori and Polynesian. And it is not just about golf.

Chamberlain Park is a unique inner city landform that has escaped development till now and provides an exquisite insight into how things looked well before humans first set foot on this land.

For our nearly 20,000 and growing petition supporters such arguments are enough. But not for a local board that wants to concentrate this huge “Think Big” like expenditure on a part of its ward that has an abundance of green space such as Fowlds Park and the Unitec Campus - even more when you take account of the neighbouring Western Springs Park. In fact by our count there are 69 parks and reserves within 2km of Chamberlain Park.

We have submitted more detailed arguments to you which I hope you will have read before making your decision. It is our view that the indicative business plan presented to you here today is flawed in that contains errors and lacks balance and is therefore potentially unlawful.

These flaws have been pointed out to the Local Board and the council staff but they still see fit to place them in front of you today. You should know the Local board voted five three along political lines to approve this project and also defeat a motion to discuss the report with us – I note two of those who voted in favour are not standing for the local board in this upcoming election. I also note that you have received information from Graeme Easte questioning the $29.7m figure and

pouring scorn on Council staff. Mr Easte voted in favour of the indicative business plan – if his convictions were so strong – and we are talking about a significant investment of rate payer funds here – then how could he allow this erroneous plan to put before you here today? Well he may question this $29.7m figure because even with an aggressive 34 year payback period the council staff can only find $26m of benefit. The only thing to conclude here is that this money could be better spent.

So what are some of the flaws?

The plan uses misleading information to imply demand for golf is shrinking in the Albert Eden area. But no one from council has surveyed the users of the course – we have.

It also conveniently ignores that numbers are up 20% in the 2019 year to March.

Then the plan says that the ethnic mix in Albert Eden is changing with NZ Europeans falling as a percentage and Asian numbers increasing – but it does not join the dots to suggest that Asian people are more likely to be golfers than rugby players.

The plan talks about the changing dynamics of golf in support of nine holes – but its masterplan is totally offside with the two main golfing bodies – Auckland Golf and NZ Golf. Over 100,000 people play golf in Auckland. Golf is the number one participation sport in this city.

Ever since we started challenging this in 2015 we have heard there is a critical shortage of sports fields in the Albert Eden area and a lack of open space.

Council language around sports fields has since changed to one of making our fields usable all year around.

However, the council staff and the local board still keep on talking about the lack of sports fields in justifying the expenditure of now $16m on yes – only two sports fields.

Just imagine how many existing sports fields could be weatherproofed for that price. It is not only unfair on golf it is unfair on those kids and teams who get rained off week after week.

The business plan says the masterplan offers a mixture of sport and recreation opportunities allowing a wider and more diverse section of the population to utilise public open space. The fact is there is more than sufficient sport and recreation opportunities in the

vicinity of Chamberlain Park. Changing the offer at Chamberlain Park would merely transfer some sport and recreation activities from close by parks such as Western Springs, Fowlds Park and Unitec Campus, to Chamberlain Park resulting in no net increase in utilisation of open space. I note that Unitec is being developed into a residential area with generous open space provision amounting to several Neighbourhood Parks and a Suburb Park.

The redevelopment options chosen provides poor community outcomes: it just makes no sense for example spending money on carving up part of the park to put a neighbourhood park adjacent to an existing one – this does not increase access to neighbourhood parks by any measure.

In conclusion this is a hugely important issue both in terms of the future of this well used recreational asset and the costs associated with its redevelopment. At the moment you are being asked to make a decision on a flawed indicative business plan.

So I put to you again what we said in our submission. Council decision making is required:

  • To take into account all matters that should be taken into account

  • To not take into account matters that should not be taken into account

  • To be fair

  • To be reasonable

Council's latest plan potentially unlawful.

25 June 2019

Stephen Town

Chief Executive Officer Auckland Council

Dear Mr Town,

I write to formally alert you of an error filled Report that Council Parks department staff have prepared for consideration under item 13 at the Albert Eden Local Board meeting to be held Wednesday 26 June. The Report recommends that the Board “endorse that the redevelopment of Chamberlain Park (CP) (Option 2) has a robust case for change” and that the Board “endorse the development of a detailed business case for the development of Chamberlain Park (Option 2)”. The business case and resource consent application is estimated to cost $900,000 to prepare. The proposed “redevelopment”is estimated to cost $29.7 million including $16.2 million for 2 sports fields. However the Report takes into account numerous irrelevant matters, does not take into account numerous relevant matters and contains numerous errors of fact which have materially effected its recommendations to such a degree that it would likely be unlawful for the Local Board to endorse the recommendations in the Report.

The relevant matters that are not considered in the Report include: • That the number of rounds played at CP in the 12 months to 31 March 2019 was 60,106, an increase of 20.2% on the 49,996 rounds played in the 12 months to 31 March 2018. • The following motion: “That the Albert-Eden Local Board: (b) request staff to consider the development options provided by Save Chamberlain Park Inc (option on following pages) and provide advice to the local board on the feasibility of the options” was carried its March 2019 meeting. However, the Save Chamberlain Park Inc Option was not considered in the Report. The errors in the Report include: • That constructing a Neighbourhood Park (NP) at the western end of CP would help meet the identified shortfall in NPs in Albert-Eden. However, there is already a NP at the western end of CP, Rawalpindi Reserve. Constructing a NP adjacent to an existing NP would not help meet the shortfall in NPs as claimed. • That there is “an economic case that identifies a preferred option(s) that delivers community benefits and value for money.” In fact the unsubstantiated claim in the Report of estimated community benefits of $26 million is less than the estimated cost of $29.7 million. There is no “economic case” as claimed, and the proposal to implement Option 2 would not deliver “value for money” as claimed. • That “Offering a mixture of sport and recreation opportunities (by implementing Option 2) will allow a wider and more diverse section of the population to utilise public open space.” There is more than sufficient sport and recreation opportunities in the vicinity of Chamberlain Park. Changing the offer at Chamberlain Park would merely transfer some sport and recreation activities from close by parks such as Western Springs Park, Fowlds Park and the Unitec Campus which is being developed into a residential area with generous open space provision amounting to several NPs and a Suburb Park to Chamberlain Park resulting in no net increase in utilisation of open space. • “There is a current shortfall in sports field hours of 27 hours, growing to 87 hours by 2028.” necessitating the construction of 2 sports fields on Chamberlain at a cost of $16.2 million. The demand for sports fields in Auckland in 2017 was estimated to be 6.7 full field equivalent, hours per week for every 1,000 people in the active age group (5 to 49) in the Auckland Council commissioned report Longdill 2017. The demand of 6.7 in 2017 was a considerable decrease in sports field demand compared with the 7.4 estimated in the equivalent 2014 report, which was itself was a considerable decrease in sports field demand compared to the 8.0 estimated in the 2011 report. The active age group comprised 64.7 % of Auckland’s total population in 2017 by census data. The estimated demand equates to 4.33 hours of field demand for every 1,000 people in all age groups (6.7 x 0.647). Put in another way, 1 hour of field demand is created by every 231 residents (1,000 / 4.33). Each sand carpet field provides 18 hours use and each hybrid field provides 27 hours use per week, in both cases including a 10% allowance for wet weather closure. This means that one sand carpet field can satisfy demand from 4,158 Aucklanders (18 x 231) and 1 hybrid field can satisfy demand from 6,237 Aucklanders (27 x 231). Albert-Eden’s population in 2018 was 107,000 and is enabled to increase to 142,000 by 2042 under the Auckland Unitary Plan. Albert-Eden has 29.4 sports fields which can accommodate demand from a population of 122,000 if all fields were sand carpeted and 183,000 if all fields were upgraded to hybrid turf. Albert-Eden’s existing sports fields can accommodate current demand and demand enabled by the Unitary Plan. Albert-Eden’s northern neighbour, the Waitemata Local Board, had a population in 2018 of 102,000, enabled to increase to 183,000 under the Unitary Plan. Waitemata’s 30.3 sports fields can accommodate demand from a population of 126,000 if all fields are sand carpeted and 189,000 if all have hybrid turf installed. Waitemata’s existing sports fields can accommodate current demand and demand enabled by the Unitary Plan. Albert-Eden has five neighbouring local boards: Whau, Puketapapa, Maungakeikie, Orakei and Waitemata. These six LBAs had population of 520,000 in 2018, enabled to increase to 842,000 under the Unitary Plan. The six LBAs have a total of 217.5 sports fields which can accommodate demand from a population of 904,000 if all fields are sand carpeted and 1,357,000 if all have hybrid turf installed. Albert-Eden’s and its five neighbouring local boards’ existing sports fields can accommodate current demand and demand enabled by the Unitary Plan. This is a small sample of the omissions, wrongful inclusions and errors in the Report. It is our view that the Report does not provide a basis for lawful action by Council and should be withdrawn. Yours sincerely Geoff Senescall Chair of Save Chamberlain Park Inc. cc. Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Ward Councilors, Albert-Eden Local Board members

John Tamihere supports Chamberlain Park

Open letter to Chamberlain Park Users and Supporters

Thanks to Geoff Senescall, Richard Quince and Reverend Solomona Uitime who have allowed me this opportunity to address Save Chamberlain Park members on my open spaces policy. I was born down the road from Chamberlain Park and as a youngster – like many kids from the neighbourhood – made pocket money selling golf balls back to wayward hackers, who found the water, went out of bounds or hit the perfect drive then discover their ball nowhere to be seen. My enjoyment of the game was interrupted when my kids came along, but I haven’t ever stopped loving the game, a love which I know you all share. Chamberlain Park – the people’s golf course – must stay intact. In fact facilities need to be improved, not butchered. This is not just for us, but for our kids and grandkids. They deserve to have access to the same green spaces that we had growing up. We must protect our parks and green space for future generations. These spaces are the kidneys, lungs and liver of any city. Our open spaces policy encompasses more than Chamberlain Park. We are committed to implementing a considered, strategic and integrated strategy for stadia and open spaces in Auckland. Ratepayers and users of these facilities deserve clarity, certainty, direction and vision. Unfortunately not a lot of vision or leadership has been on display from our current leaders. Give me the mandate as Mayor and I make these commitments to you:

  1. Not one blade of grass will be carved up from Chamberlain Park, unless by agreement.
  2. Speedway will remain at Western Springs until a fit for purpose alternative venue is available.
  3. Eden Park will get a major upgrade to bring it in line with international stadia standards. Eden Park will host concerts and events to ensure it is an economically viable location. We can’t have Aucklanders being held to ransom by a few neighbourhood nimbies, nor can we fund international stadia for every code.
  4. MOTAT, the Zoo, Chamberlain Park, Western Springs and MOTAT 2 – the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Display - must be seen and managed as the People’s Precinct and as one large green footprint. But back to Chamberlain Park and our course. Golf is the highest participation sport in New Zealand – especially in Auckland. That’s why I’m hoping the golfing fraternity will get behind my campaign. Join my movement, go to and read about my five foundation platforms for Auckland. You can donate or become one of the team – it’s your call

Regards John Tamihere


Save Chamberlain Park has presented to the Albert-Eden Local Board a suggested base line option for the business case to be considered as part of the Board’s strategy to develop the Chamberlain Park Master Plan.

SCP suggested to the Board that this base line option would be more beneficial for all members of the community instead of the normal “do nothing” base line options included in major developments and would deliver much of what is contemplated in the Master Plan while still retaining the 18 hole golf course in its current form.

Benefits arising from the proposal include:

i. Availability of walking and biking tracks

ii. Increased open space by linking Rawalpindi Reserve to the destination playground

iii. Utilisation of the existing clubhouse as a community hub

iv. An agreed plan for the restoration of Meola Creek while still allowing golfers to play across the waterway.

v. Lower level of ratepayer spend by not undertaking golf course reconstruction

vi. No loss of existing trees and the opportunity to undertake native plantings

vii. Potential for inclusion in a western eco-corridor linking to Western Springs

viii. Potential to involve the local schools and community in an inner city environmental project

ix. No loss of income while redevelopment is undertaken

x. Security for the users of the most popular 18-hole golf course in Auckland.

The proposal will establish both a Suburban Park at the western end of the park and Chamberlain Park as a Destination Park as defined by Council. The proposal also provides an opportunity for environmental enhancement and the integration of Chamberlain Park and Western Springs as a green corridor.

The Board has agreed to request Council staff to consider the options provided and to provide advice to the Board on the feasibility of the options.

SCP spokesman Richard Quince says “This is an important development. Almost three years after SCP first developed and circulated its “Win Win For All” document which included many of the features now under consideration our voice is finally being heard


The Albert Eden Local Board pushed forward with its anti sport campaign yesterday, voting to request staff to commence work to enable a single resource consent application to be lodged for the whole of the Board’s master plan to redevelop Chamberlain Park Golf Course.

The decision, unanimously supported by the 5 City Vision members of the 8 member Local Board, will see work commence immediately on a the resource consent application for all five stages of the master plan. The work is expected to take up to 18 months and cost around $1 million.

Chamberlain Park, the people's golf course, has been a public 18 hole course for 80 years and is the busiest 18-hole golf course in New Zealand. Golf is also the number one participation sport in Auckland and demand for the sport is expected to grow according to Council's own estimates.

If the AELB is successful it will see the golf course cut down to nine holes, denying its many users (as well as future generations) proper and fair access to what is a very popular sport. It also sets a very uneasy precedent as there are 10 golf courses in Auckland that are on Council land which theoretically could meet the same fate as Chamberlain Park.

The latest turn of events comes off the back of the Council (on behalf of the Local Board) being forced to surrender its resource consent for Stage 2 of the master plan in January this year which Council had granted on a non-notified basis – thereby denying the public a say in its plans. Save Chamberlain Park lodged a judicial review application of the non notification and the granting of the consent in December 2018. Council staff “concluded that successfully defending Council’s notification and consent decisions would be challenging.”

SCP chairman Geoff Senescall said that the group was disappointed that the Local Board had again chosen ignore a call for a meeting to discuss a way forward that would be beneficial to all Aucklanders. "In good faith we did not seek costs as we were entitled to after the consent was surrendered. In doing this we had hoped for the opportunity to talk with the Local Board about our alternative plans involving the creation of a predator-free ecology-friendly reserve sanctuary that also supported wider use. Instead of engagement the Local Board has simply put its head in the sand and barreled on with preparations for its $22m rate payer funded project."

"It beggars belief that a Local Board can simply ignore us in this way – especially when the course is so well patronised. We have around 15,000 signatures of golfers and non-golfers on a petition. What this process allows is for us to fully mobilise a campaign for change at the Local Board in the upcoming elections in October."

"On the bright side this latest process as outlined in a 30 page Council strategy paper will see the entire master plan costed and tested by the preparation of a business case which will require Governing Body approval to proceed. We certainly will be watching closely that this work is done properly. In particular we will be looking at assumptions around revenue currently generated from Chamberlain Park to that generated under the master plan. We will want capital costs to be included in that equation. We will also be very interested in the total costs – currently estimated at $22m. Another key focus will be the proposal to spend $15m on only two sports fields when Albert-Eden has sufficient sports fields and such funds could be used to upgrade the many sports facilities in the area."

"There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before this project gets to be anywhere near a reality – not least the upcoming Council election which will be a key test of public desire to priorities the expenditure of $22m plus of rate payer money."

Chamberlain Park wins with Judicial Review against Council

Press Release Date: 24 January 2019

Auckland Council has surrendered its self-granted Resource Consents to commence the redevelopment of Chamberlain Park after Judicial Review proceedings were filed against its plans in the Auckland High Court just before Christmas.

“This decision to back down not only vindicates our decision to legally challenge the Council, it also raises serious questions around the robustness of the processes that saw the Council grant itself a non-notified Resource Consent,” Save Chamberlain Park (SCP) said in a statement.

“This is an important victory against a well-resourced Council that chose to ignore the legitimate interests of Aucklanders who rely on Chamberlain Park for their sport and recreation. We have accepted the Council’s decision to surrender its Resource Consents in good faith. SCP on behalf of its many supporters (including the men’s and women’s golf clubs based at Chamberlain Park) now encourages Council to agree to dialogue so that a sensible solution can be found. We already have developed an alternative plan that allows for increased amenity usage and environment improvements at the park that can be funded through keeping the full 18 hole golf course intact. Surely this is a more reasonable way forward and much better than spending $22m plus of rate payer money on plans that make no commercial or civic sense!”

Chamberlain Park is one of the busiest courses in Auckland, offering an accessible and affordable place to play what is the number one participation sport in the region. It has strong community links, in particular Maori and Pasifika making up around 30% of the course users.

Latest figures released by Council staff show that usage at the park in the last six months is up by a significant 26% over the same period last year. Revenue is also believed to be up by a similar amount. December 2018 usage was the highest in a December since 2009. Had work commenced in February 2019 as originally planned Chamberlain Park would have been reduced to a 14-hole golf course for most of the rest of the year. While the intention would be to change it back to an 18-hole golf course in time it would be significantly shorter and a different golfing experience than it currently is. This would more than likely have an impact on future usage and revenue particularly as the Council’s longer-term goal is for Chamberlain Park to be a nine hole course.

Stop beating up on Golfers. Look at the positive ways of working together to improve the amenity value of the land.

Stop beating up on Golfers. Look at the positive ways of working together to improve the amenity value of the land.

Dear Councillors and Local Board members (in particular Albert Eden),

What are you all thinking? Why do you believe you have the right to single out golf every time you seek to address years of poor decision making by City Hall? The latest iteration comes via a Council paid for report by some advisory firm that suggests golf courses are not financially viable. Blind Eddy could have told you that – it is the same for every sports field, park, library and museum in Auckland.

Instead of golf courses, next time why don’t you consider selling Albert Park; it is worth more than $1 billion – just imagine what you could do with that? Just imagine the uproar that would create!


Golf does require large tracts of open space to play on, but that feature of golf is of enormous benefit to Auckland.   Over the last 100 years generations of Auckland golfers have paid for the reservation, development and maintenance of large golf courses which are now the lungs of Auckland and provide invaluable open space for all Aucklanders. 


Golfers pay good money to play the game. For the 10 Council owned courses, that revenue goes to pay for the lease of the land and the maintenance and development of the land which provides employment of staff to run the golfing facility and many other economic and open space benefits to all Aucklanders.  If, for example, Council had to maintain the 10 courses as open space then, at $20,000 per hectare by Council figures, it would cost it around $8 million a year alone just for mowing and general upkeep. When it comes to other sports such as soccer, rugby, league, softball and cricket, Council incurs 100% of the costs of at least $50,000 per hectare by Council figures, amounting to tens of millions per year.


The notion that golfing land should be up for grabs is an affront to those who play the sport. Golf seems to be tagged as an ‘elitist’ sport. But that is far from the truth. More people play golf than any other sport, and those who play span a wider age group than any other sport – it is not unusual to see 80 year old golfers; Sir Bob Charles being a notable one. Golf is a game you can play through your entire life.  Men and women can compete against each other as can the old and young and the novice and the professional. A wide range of ethnicities play the sport – golf is particularly popular with the Polynesian and Asian communities.


It should be no surprise to you that, by your own numbers, golf is the number one participation sport in Auckland – more than one million rounds of golf are played a year by over 90,000 people. At the course I play, Chamberlain Park, you are more likely to meet up with a self-employed plumber than you are a doctor or company director.


It’s time you stopped beating up on golfers and instead look at positive ways of working together to improve, if that is your wish, the amenity value of the land. Some Councillors talk about the need for wider community usage. Such ideas are not novel; public courses in London such as Richmond Park Golf Course or even the prestigious St Andrews in Scotland allow public access to the likes of walkers, runners, dog walkers etc. At Chamberlain Park walking and biking access can easily be achieved without destroying the current 18 hole format.


So let’s ditch this nonsense about carving up golfing land for housing or other purposes and start thinking with a bit more imagination and working together constructively.


Yours sincerely


Geoff Senescall

Chair of Save Chamberlain Park