Sorry Councillors, Golf is NOT for Sale

Sorry Councillors, Golf is NOT for Sale

JUL 9, 2018 — Date: 9 July 2018
Save Chamberlain Park (SCP) is calling on all golfers and all Aucklanders to unite to halt the short-sighted and anti-sport approach taken by the Auckland Council which is centred on carving up city parks and golf courses. More than 94,000 Aucklanders play golf each year making it the region’s number one participation sport. NZ Golf has calculated that golf alone contributes over $54m per annum to Auckland’s GDP.

“We need to become a single voice and join with others who have similar concerns,” said SCP, which already has petition numbers nearing 10,000. “Chamberlain Park is already under threat from a Local Board that wants to chop the course in half. Now we hear the only other public golf course in Auckland, Takapuna, is being groomed for housing and other courses on council land are also under review. The Council supported plan for Chamberlain Park has been outed as a Trojan horse for a wider plan to privatise public land.
“Why is Auckland’s number one sport, golf, being singled out to pay for Council’s failure over many years to address the infrastructure and housing needs of this city? We can’t think of any other major city in the world that would sell off its park land to make a very small percentage contribution to the cost of the likes of trains and houses; selling the family silverware to fund 3% of the grocery bill. It not only doesn’t make sense it lacks imagination and goes against the Council’s own vision of making Auckland a ‘liveable city’. Keep the parks. Keep the liveability. Cut the grocery bill by 3%.
“Why pick on a sport that provides a sporting outlet for many people including those who would otherwise be sedentary. As Sir Bob Charles recently said - ‘Golf is a game of a life time, with people continuing to play into their nineties’. Often misunderstood as being just for the elite golf is played and enjoyed by a wide cross section of society with courses such as Takapuna and Chamberlain Park notably providing low cost access to those not in a position to join a club. A sport does not become number one in participation without drawing players from every sector of society.
“Given Council’s track record and stance we cannot leave them to have a confidential workshop and a closed door meeting to determine the fate of parks and golf courses. True accountability at the ballot box is a little over a year away. Aucklanders need to make sure in the meantime that actions aren’t taken to destroy Aucklanders’ legitimate right to sport and to the preservation of park land.”

For further comment please contact:
Geoff Senescall 021 481 234
Richard Quince 021 027 16935

Battle for Chamberlain far from over

Battle for Chamberlain far from over

JUN 29, 2018 — A fight to stop a local board and Auckland Council from radically changing Chamberlain Park in Mt Albert will go on, despite campaigners for keeping it as a public, 18-hole golf course losing a High Court action. Here, campaign leader Geoff Senescall outlines what his group will do next.

Justice Simon Moore, in ruling against Save Chamberlain Park Inc in our High Court bid for judicial review of a decision to carve up the famous golf course, summed it up by saying: “There was no requirement for the AELB [Albert-Eden Local Board] to accept the views and preferences or even reach compromise with those who sought the maintenance of the status quo.”

Judicial review is about process. Were all the boxes ticked? The judge said yes. What this tells you is that local boards must consult with the public but they do not need to listen – this is a continuing frustration for the public who participate in such processes. This gives local boards significant power over assets such as Chamberlain Park (CP) which became fair game when it came under the AELB’s control with the introduction of the Super City.

In a judicial review process it does not review the logic behind the AELB’s masterplan to cut in half this well-used 80-year-old 18-hole public golf course in favour of two sports fields, a driving range, bike paths, a playground and possibility an acquatic centre. No consideration is given to the fact that the redevelopment plans include replacing green spaces with hard surfaces such as astroturf, car parks, roadways and structures - not to mention the loss of an estimated 1100 trees.

Furthermore, it does not seem to matter that the AELB’s masterplan budget keeps blowing out (from $13m to $22m) and that the rationale itself for change is based on the erroneous assumptions that there is a “critical shortage” of sports fields and lack of open spaces in Albert Eden – planning documents now use language around getting more use out of the assets it has. Nevertheless the AELB ploughs on with its plans for two new sports fields costing a whopping $15m. There was also significant objection to the AELB’s plans at public meetings. However, as long as a local board can prove it conducted a consultation process which met some basic requirements all those matters raised are incidental.

Whilst this is very frustrating, there are further underlying factors that make this whole process egregious. This relates to the fact that local boards are not legal entities. So in our case although our issue was against the AELB, we had to bring proceedings against the Council. This is a problem with Super City structure as the Council was forced to support the AELB and thus was not open to us (SCP) making complaints about the conduct and decision making process of the AELB. For example the Council is yet to complete its report on the future of golf in Auckland. Council expects demand for golf to increase over the next 15 years and Chamberlain Park is one of only two public golf courses servicing the entire Auckland region. The Council also promotes more active recreation yet key parts of the AELB Masterplan are not consistent with this.

Moreover, it is the Council that must approve the budget for projects. The financing process is where things get very murky. We thought that the Council would never give the AELB the cash it needed, there was just too much pressure on rate payers and the proposed infrastructure spend was huge. However, the Council got some welcome financial assistance from a supportive Government by way of $28b joint funding programme over the next 10 years for a much needed Auckland transport programme. This meant that the Council was able to dig into its lolly jar and fund all local board projects that had been tabled at an open meeting on 7 June. SCP had requested speaking rights but was denied. We understand very little debate took place for each Local Board initiative. Incredibly, this funding effectively gets rubber-stamped on June 28 - all local boards go away happy.

In the case of the AELB it is only seeking $7.5m for Chamberlain Park even though its total budget for the masterplan is $22m. Miraculously the AELB has been able to pull funding from other places such as $8m from the general pool it is given by Council for sporting activities, and tip it into its pet Chamberlain Park project. The AELB then argues that its Masterplan costs are much lower as the new money it is seeking is significantly less than the actual cost of the entire project. No questions are asked as to whether siphoning off $8m from its sports field fund for a $15m expense to create only two sports fields makes sense. The balance of the $22m (excluding the cost of the aquatic centre) is planned to be used to restore Meola Creek (which SCP supports) and to redevelop the course from 18 holes to nine holes.

For SCP, though the judicial review result is a disappointment it is far from game over. The Masterplan requires resource consent. To contest this does require funding and an alert team to counter attempts to keep the public out of the process. For example stage 1 of the Masterplan involves the Meola Creek restoration that will see approx 1,000m cut from the length of the golf course. Council has requested that the application be determined, by its resource consents team, without public notification. Clearly there is significant public interest (not least due to the fact there will be 21 native trees removed) so logic suggests that the application will be publicly notified.

A publicly notified hearing process will allow us to bring in arguments that were not heard during the judicial review process. We will be able to question the very logic for this proposed redevelopment particularly in the context that the rationale behind it was based on erroneous information; it has been proven there was and is no ‘critical shortfall’ in sports fields or open space, the absurdity of spending $15m on two sports fields which are not required and the planned playground location at the Meola Creek part of the park which fails to meet Council safety guidelines.

But this is not without its challenges. Auckland Council in this case is the applicant and the adjudicator. Also, the resource consents for the overall plan are being applied for in at least 4 stages; a common strategy of property developers to avoid the adverse effects of a plan being properly evaluated as a whole. Once the first stage is approved, the consent authority can find itself a little bit pregnant and unable to resist pressure to approve applications for subsequent stages.

SCP will have to again seek the generosity of its supports to fight this in the courts. It is a stacked deck but we are not going to bow down. Chamberlain Park has been a public 18 hole golf course for 80 years. The open space needs of Aucklanders have to be properly assessed and not just left to a small group of elected local members who have the power during a short election cycle to halve the golf capacity of an irreplaceable open space asset.

Judge Moore's decision. We are not Impressed

Judge Moore's decision. We are not Impressed

JUN 19, 2018 — In reference to the decision released today by Justice Simon Moore ruling against our case, Save Chamberlain Park Inc makes the following comments:

Clearly this is not the outcome we had hoped for and it was always going to be tough fighting Council with all its resources. We will review the judgement in detail with our lawyers to see if we will appeal.

But legalities aside - this is a significant blow for the working classes and others who rely on Chamberlain Park as a low cost and accessible place to play golf. It also is a blow for future generations of Aucklanders .

Golf is the number one participation sport in Auckland and by Council’s own projections demand to play golf in Auckland is going to increase over the next 15 years as the population grows and diversifies.

Subject to anything further that we may be able to do, the ball is now in the governing body’s court to decide whether it wants to fund this $22m plus redevelopment project that will significantly impact the future of golf at Chamberlain.

Justice Simon Moore noted in his ruling that “There was no requirement for the AELB to accept the views and preferences or even reach compromise with those who sought the maintenance of the status quo.” This seems to mean that the only real way of contesting Council decisions is at the ballot box.

Having said that any works at Chamberlain Park will require Resource consents obtained through processes prescribed by the Resource Management Act. This will enable us and the public to properly submit on the merits of any Council application.

Dear Supporters

APR 4, 2018 — Dear supporters
Save Chamberlain Park Inc needs to call on your generosity once more. While we await Judge Simon Moore's ruling, the Council has pre-empted our Judicial Review process and gone ahead with an application for Resource Consent in preparation for Stage 1 redevelopment plans. Surprisingly, it has recommended that its application for the Resource Consent be non-notified!. Any Chamberlain Park redevelopment should be publicly notified! Already the council has spent tens of thousands of rate payers dollars to develop a very detailed application.
If Council is successful this means that the only way of challenging it is via another costly Judicial Review. We want to raise $20,000 to get professional assistance to try and stop this application and to do all we can to ensure that at the very least it is notified.
If you would like to donate, please go to 

$5 or $10 from every petition signatory would be enough. 
Thanks so much for your ongoing support -

15 Million for 2 sports fields?

15 Million for 2 sports fields?

15 million for two sports fields!!!!  That we don’t need!


No it’s not a joke. Documents obtained under the official information act reveal that the Albert Eden Local Board (AELB) wants to spend a whopping $15m of rate payer money on creating two sports fields as part of its redevelopment plans of Chamberlain Park.   The AELB already has $8million of that funding from Council. It is now looking for a further $7m from Council to level off and create platforms from the significant undulation of bedrock that exists on the North Eastern part of the golf course (where the two sports fields are proposed).

The AELB claimed in its 2014 three year Plan that there was a "critical need for playing fields" in Albert Eden.

That statement is blatantly INCORRECTWe already have 32 sports fields in Albert Eden! And this exceeds the defined requirement (in hours per week) for the current population of 105.000.

So in its 2017 Plan the AELB actually dropped this claim, stating that "open space is limited" (i.e. it is not unlimited) and that the AELB will advocate for sports field "upgrades that make more of our fields usable all year around." 


We totally agree with up-grading the existing sports fields that become boggy in winter! By sand-carpeting these existing fields, the hours of usage per field would be doubled.  The population could grow another 40,000 and there still will be sufficient hours per week of field use/capita. With $15million, sand-carpeting 15 sports fields at around $1 million per field would provide a massively superior outcome and we can keep the 18 hole “sports-field for the working man” (aka Chamberlain Golf Course).

So why are they still pursuing the extra two fields? What checks and balances are there in the system that allows the Council to green light funding for unnecessary projects when a superior outcome could be achieved with a fraction of the funds?   How does such expenditure get through?  Remember it’s our hard earned rates money!


8FEB18 People vs Albert Eden Local Board

— Court proceedings were concluded today (8th February) and we are now in the hands of Justice Simon Moore who somewhat encouragingly noted in closing that (and I paraphrase) this was a very important asset for the people of Auckland and a very important case. He also noted that he would not be rushed into making a judgement.
We would like to give a huge shout out to our legal team – Julian Long, Doug Cowan, Caitlin Hollings and Lucy Gould. What a tremendous job they have done for us and those who support our cause should be comforted that win or loose they gave it bloody good shot. To paraphrase Julian – if the AELB had approached CP in a fair and serious way they would have made a proper effort to understand more about the course, its users and its utilisation. They did not because their minds were already made up!
Well now we wait and hope.

The Court case Nov 13 and 14. Update

NOV 14, 2017 — Save Chamberlain Park’s argument has been heard by the court and the argument for the Auckland Council was in the process of being presented before the court ran out of time. The case is adjourned until February 8th when the rest of the Council’s argument will be heard.
The court has asked the Auckland Council to resolve the interim position pending the delivery of the court’s judgment.
We therefore expect the council will undertake to postpone the start of any scheduled work planned for January 2018!! 
If, however, the Auckland Council is unwilling or unable to provide this undertaking to delay starting earthworks, the judge has reserved leave for Save CP Inc to return to him so that the question of interim relief can be dealt with by the court.

Petition to Save Chamberlain Park presented to Council

July 27, 2017 — Our petition to save Chamberlain Park from needless and costly redevelopment was today presented to Auckland Council supported by 70 odd golfers and non-golfers. The petition attracted nearly 6,000 signatures opposing the redevelopment. Our group, Save Chamberlain Park Inc, filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court at Auckland on 30 May challenging the decision-making of the Local Board, and the consultation process it carried out.

Chamberlain Park has allowed public access to the game of golf for 78 years and has been open to anyone and everyone during that time. It is affordable and blind to all social distinctions, and is one of only two public 18-hole golf courses serving the Auckland region. With well over 50,000 rounds played there each year, Chamberlain Park is self-funding; in fact for the past three years it has been profitable. 

The Herald has described Chamberlain Park as a city gem. “We believe it is not spare land and its future should not be determined by the narrow and flawed thinking of a profligate local board”, says Geoff Senescall, Chair of Save Chamberlain Park Inc. “Our group would like to see proper consideration and genuine consultation in the interests of preserving and enhancing this precious regional and community asset. Cutting it in half, and effectively killing it, is not the right way to achieve this. Surely our green spaces will become even more valuable and important as the city intensifies and the population swells.
"The local board wants to spend $30 million of rate payer money on its plans. We have submitted an alternative vision for Chamberlain Park to Council Staff and the Local Board that could be self funding if done right. Our vision allows for restoration of Meola Creek, retention of the 18 -hole golf course and increased public access to the space. But we have been ignored."

In 2014 534 people signed a petition to keep Chamberlain Park as it is but it was ignored. With nearly 6,000 signatures in 2017, surely it will be harder to ignore.


Stanley Palmer, Mt Eden artist donates a print for auction

Stanley Palmer, Mt Eden artist donates a print for auction


Stanley Palmer donates work to be auctioned for court costs to oppose Chamberlain redevelopment

Renowned Auckland printmaker and painter Stanley Palmer has joined the fight to protect Western Springs’ Chamberlain Park as a green space.

The 80-year-old has donated a print of his artwork “Tower” to be auctioned off by citizens’ action group Save Chamberlain Park Inc to raise money for a legal bid in the High Court opposing a development for the park planned by Albert-Eden Local Board.


The lobbyists want to see the 78-year-old public golf course restored and preserved as a shared green space and have been involved in a stoush with the board since it announced in 2015 it would spend $30 million replacing the existing 18-hole golf course with a ninehole course, public park and playground.


Palmer, who grew up on the adjacent Linwood Ave, told the Weekend Herald he got behind the cause because of his affinity with the area and his memories of playing there as a young boy with his siblings and neighbours.


The children had a pact with the greenkeeper that they could roam and do as they pleased as long as they didn’t bother the golfers and looked after the space.


“We just played endlessly in the long grass. In the summer we built huts in the gorse. It was just like paradise around there. There was a lot more wildlife around the course at that time.”


However, developments like the Northwestern Motorway had changed the landscape he loved, he said, and at times he had been moved to tears by the pollution of the Waititiko (Meola Creek) that runs through the park. “I’ve seen the creek just die. It’s been neglected.”


Although the Local Board’s redevelopment plan included restoring the creek, which Palmer agreed with, he said the move came a bit late. He was also concerned some of the park’s green space would be replaced with concrete for roading and car parks and astro turf for sports’ fields during the project.


Palmer told the Weekend Herald the money earmarked for the redevelopment would be better spent on a planting scheme to encourage native birds from Titirangi to nest in the park’s trees and restoring some of the holes that were prone to flooding .


“I’m not against development but it has to be really well thought out. It’s a bit like a bad facelift — leave it alone or restore it.”


It was possible for golfers and local residents to co-exist and enjoy Chamberlain Park side-by-side , he said.


Hagley Park in Christchurch and London’s Richmond Public Golf Course were two examples of shared spaces he noted that worked well.


He said residents from all over the region came to Chamberlain Park just 17 per cent of golfers who use the course live in the Albert-Eden ward — so any development there was an “Auckland issue” instead of one to be decided by just the Local Board.


Quoting William Pitt, the First Earl of Chatham of the 1700s, Palmer said parks were “the lungs” of a city.


“[ They’re ] how the city breathes and it’s going to become more and more important — maybe not in my time, but in 50 years it’s going to be invaluable that space.”


A proud Aucklander for 73 of his 80 years, Palmer has advocated for the protection of several historic place around the region.


He was part of a group who spent a decade fighting to save the Presbyterian church and hall that make up Mt Eden Village centre.


New Zealand landscapes and iconic places have also served as inspiration for much of Palmer’s artwork, which is included in the national collection at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and most other New Zealand public collections.


His “Tower” print — which a spokesman for Save Chamberlain Park Inc said may fetch $2000 or more at auction — is a depiction of the iconic Mt Eden Shot Tower built in 1914 by the Colonial Ammunition Company.


Palmer said it was “big job” balancing the growing need for housing and infrastructure in the Auckland region against the preservation of heritage places and nature areas.


“I’m not a town planner but I think you preserve what you can that’s really worthwhile and you make sure everything that’s built is built really well.”


He is meeting with Jacinda Ardern, deputy leader of the Labour Party and MP for Mt Albert, on Monday to discuss his concerns about the redevelopment .


Brittany Keogh 


Copyright © 2017 New Zealand Herald

This article is from the July 8 issue of The New Zealand Herald Digital Edition. To subscribe, visit


Judicial Review proceedings filed to Save Chamberlain Park

Save Chamberlain Park Inc has today filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court at Auckland.  The proceedings challenge decisions made by the Auckland Council and the Albert Eden Local Board in relation to Chamberlain Park and its continued use as an 18-hole public access golf course.

Save Chamberlain Park Inc was formed by a group of concerned Aucklanders who have been unhappy for some time about the decision making that has been happening over Chamberlain Park. 

Chamberlain Park was developed as an 18-hole full-length golf course in the mid 1930’s, and has been open for play since 1939.  It is named after Neville Chamberlain. In the mid 1970’s some of the land it utilised was taken for Auckland’s North Western Motorway.  The then Auckland City Council purchased more land on the Western side of the motorway development to maintain the 18-hole configuration of the course.

A variety of Council and private operators have run Chamberlain Park over time.  Since mid 2013 the course has been operated by Auckland City Parks, who have done a fine job of bringing the golf course up to standard again.  The golf course is one of the highest utilised in Auckland with well over 50,000 rounds of golf played there each year.  People from all over Auckland play golf at Chamberlain Park, and the course is loved by many as the club of the “working class”.

In the local government re-organisation of Auckland Chamberlain Park decision making in relation to Chamberlain Park was allocated to the Albert Eden Local Board.

Since early 2014, the Local Board has been looking at how it might change the use of Chamberlain Park to cut the golf course in half to a nine-hole configuration, in pursuit of a Masterplan development.

The judicial review proceeding that the group has filed challenges both the allocation of decision making by Auckland Council to the Local Board, as well as the steps the Local Board has taken in advancing its plans by way of the consultation they have purported to engage in with stakeholders. The proceedings were filed by Auckland barristers Julian Long and Doug Cowan

Julian Long and the chairperson of Save Chamberlain Park Inc jointly commented: “Many Aucklanders might be wondering why the fate of a large regional sporting facility might be in the hands of a Local Board.  Save Chamberlain Park Inc is wondering this too.  Despite its history, where its users come from, and it being one of only two public 18-hole golf courses in Auckland, Auckland Council decided that the Albert Eden Local Board should be the one to decide how the land is used.  Does it surprise you to learn that there are no regional sporting facilities in Auckland under the Long Term Plan?  There is no recognition of regional assets like Chamberlain Park in the allocation of responsibilities between Auckland Council and its local boards. 

“So Chamberlain Park is being treated like a small local reserve of consequence only to the residents of the Albert Eden Local Board area.  The proceedings say that this is wrong.  Chamberlain Park is a regional asset and decisions about it should be made by the Auckland Council itself.

“Fundamental to a decision making process that involves something of Auckland wide importance is the need to involve people who might be effected by that decision in the decision making process.  In this case, even if the Albert Eden Local Board was rightly given the power to decide the fate of Chamberlain Park then they were obliged to collaborate and co-operate with other Local Boards about that decision.

“But Auckland does not seem to work that way.  Local Boards are in some sort of great contest against each other to compete for the facilities they each dream of having in their own areas. 

“We need public golf courses in Auckland.  We have two 18-hole public golf courses right now.  You’d think a decision to halve the capacity of one of them would be something a Local Board might speak to others about. So much for any regional strategy for golf courses. That work is actually happening as well but its just not something that the Albert Eden Local Board is paying any attention to as they do their own “local thing” with one of Auckland’s regional assets.

“Finally, fundamental to any sort of decision making process is also the principle that a decision maker should have an open mind and not predetermine something.  The proceedings allege that this did not happen with the decision to change from the status quo at Chamberlain Park. 

“The question “should we change the status quo?” has never been considered in any Local Board consultation process, but was made in private in early 2014 when the Local Board asked council officials to prepare their “starting point”.  That “starting point” was a Chamberlain Park with only 9 holes.  What has happened is a bit like having the NZ flag referendum but with the options people are asked to choose from not include the present flag.”


For further comment please contact:

Julian Long



Geoff Senescall

Chairperson of Save Chamberlain Park Inc