Advocating for the Future of Golf in Auckland

Advocating for the Future of Golf in Auckland

Golf has a significant and positive impact on Auckland. This impact is realised through social, environmental, economic and community outcomes for the city and its people.
Our vision is to be an integral part of Auckland’s future, enriching Auckland through golf. To achieve this, we must be an innovative leader in sport, delivering increasingly greater outcomes for Auckland and its communities. As a growing sport we’re working hard to add this value to Auckland and its people.
As the leadership body for the sport, New Zealand Golf is concerned about the publicity and messaging regarding Auckland Council managed and owned golf facilities and golf in general within Auckland.
There is an imbalance in the messaging that may have detrimental consequences not only for golf, but for the people of Auckland. Of particular concern is the publicity regarding the financial value of the facilities being presented in isolation. The discussion does not provide a fair representation of the true value of golf or golf facilities to Auckland.
To balance this discussion and add greater clarity to the messaging, we present the following facts and research.
Golf is a growing sport and is contributing towards the vision of being the world’s most active city.

1. Golf is the largest club-based sport in the country with an estimated 500,000 participants.

2. Over 94,000 Aucklanders play golf each year and it is expected that over 130,000 Aucklanders could be playing golf annually by 2030. Accordingly, there is a risk that the number of golf clubs that currently operate across Auckland will not be able to meet the demand within the next 20 years (2033).

3. Over 1,000,000 competitive rounds of golf are played in Auckland annually which do not include a large number of events, charity days, corporate days or practice rounds.

4. Since 2013, golf club membership within Auckland has grown 1% to 24,321. For context, golf's adult club membership is larger than rugby, netball and football's adult membership combined.

5. New Zealand Golf started to register casual golfers/non-members in 2014 and this has grown per annum significantly with 38,005 Aucklanders formally registering.

6. The existing network of golf facilities provide a wide variety of pricing for membership and green fees which makes golf accessible to a diverse range of participants in age, ethnicity, gender and income levels.

7. Active New Zealand Survey undertaken by Sport New Zealand (2017) highlights golf as one of the most popular sport and recreation activities for adults with approximately 116,423 (11%) Aucklanders participating in the last 12 months.
For context, participation for mountain biking (9%), tennis (8%), football (8%), netball (4%), cricket (4%) hockey (2%) and rugby (2%).
• Golf is one of the most popular sport and recreation activities for males and females. For context
▪ 19% of males have played golf in the last 12 months
▪ Male participation across other sports, football (10%), tennis (9%), cricket (7%) and rugby (4%)
▪ 5% of females have played golf in the last 12 months
▪ Female participation across other sports, netball (8%), tennis (7%), football (4%), cricket (2%)
and rugby (1%).
• Golf attracts participants from many different ethnic backgrounds to be active. For context
▪ Golf - Chinese (7%), Indian (8%), Samoan (12%), Maori (11%), NZ European (12%)
▪ Tennis - Chinese (7%), Indian (6%) Samoan (4%), Maori (7%), NZ European (9%)
▪ Football - Chinese (5%), Indian (11%), Samoan (5%), Maori (5%), NZ European (7%)
▪ Rugby - Chinese (0%), Indian (1%), Samoan (7%), Maori (5%), NZ European (2%).
• Golf is popular across North Harbour (12%), Auckland Central (11%), Waitakere (10%) and Counties Manukau
(10%). Removal of golf’s footprint will have an impact on accessibility and participation and exacerbate gaps within the facility network.
• Young peoples (5-17 years) participation in golf across New Zealand is the equivalent to other sport and recreation activities such as Rugby League, Fishing or Water Polo/Flipper Ball.
Golf contributes significantly to the health and wellbeing of Aucklanders for all ages

8. Children introduced to golf at an early age enjoy learning and playing the game with parents and develop the motivation, confidence and skills to be active and play a sport for the rest of their lives.

9. An 18-hole round of golf can involve walking up to nine kilometres and around 12,000 steps, exceeding the commonly recommended daily amount of steps for health. Golf’s physical health benefits include the treatment and prevention of more than 40 major chronic diseases. For example, research undertaken by SBP and Street Ryan for Golf Victoria found the physical health benefits contribute $33 million per year to the State of Victoria due to the prevention of ischemic
heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

10. 92% of the burden of disease that results from being physically inactive is borne by people aged 15 years and above.
Therefore, it is imperative that people are encouraged to be active into and throughout adulthood. This highlights golf's uniqueness as a sport popular across the lifespan with minimal drop off in participation as shown by data below from Active New Zealand Survey (2017).

11. Diseases which are preventable through physical inactivity have a significant negative impact on the health of New Zealanders aged 55+ years of age – therefore golf participation plays a significant, preventative role in the later stages of life.

12. A landmark Swedish study of over 300,000 golfers found regular golfers live an average of five years longer than nongolfers, regardless of age, gender or socio-economic status.

13. Playing golf helps reduce the risk of anxiety, depression, and dementia while improving confidence and boost selfesteem, all of which contribute to mental well-being.

18-24 25-34 35-49 50-64 65-74 75+
Golf 13% 11% 12% 12% 11% 8%
Tennis 14% 9% 10% 7% 3% 2%
Football 17% 9% 8% 2% 0% 0%
Rugby 8% 4% 2% 0% 0% 0%
Netball 14% 10% 5% 1% 0% 0%


JUL 20, 2018 — Don’t shrink Auckland’s green spaces with housing!

The ownership of Auckland Council's 13 golf courses is back in the spotlight with their fairways, greens and bunkers worth more than $2 billion if they went on the open market for development.
Using ratepayer-owned golf courses for homes is often floated by housing advocates, though this falls flat with clubs and their members.
Auckland's councillors are being called to a workshop behind closed doors scheduled for July 24 to be briefed on future plans for 13 council-owned golf courses where half of the leases are due to expire between 2021 and 2026. Other courses have leases running until 2094.
And a report from the council late last year points out that land used for golfing "can be better utilised [from a wider community benefit perspective] than in their current state"
"The Auckland region currently has 23 golf courses with Auckland Council being the largest investor in this sport. Auckland Council has an opportunity to reconsider its rationale for continuing ownership, particularly given the presence of well-functioning privately operated golf courses."
The council gave 43.65ha Takapuna golf course as an "illustrative example" of where the land could be reshaped and allow for affordable housing and public parks while still allowing a playing course.
It referred a $300m development in Albany where 800 mid-rise units were planned for a 2ha area.
"This indicates that a significant number of mid-rise units can be achieved whilst still providing golfing facilities and plentiful open space to the wider community," the report said.
This list of council-owned courses appeared in a document on the 10-year plan.
A spokesman for Takapuna Golf Course said there had been little discussion about any sale:
"But we would be unhappy about it. We don't want it to be sold."
The club bills itself as the most played public golf course in Auckland and says more than 60,000 people hit a round each year.
The council report cites a study carried out in 2015 by investment bankers Cameron Partners which listed the "alternative use value" of the 13 golf courses as $2.1b.
Remuera is the city's most valuable council-owned course by far, its 63.6ha valued for rates at $22.5m but $517.1m by Cameron Partners as an "alternative use value". But its lease doesn't expire till 2091, making it the most inaccessible potentially.
The 32.3ha Chamberlain Park is second-most valuable, listed as $315.6m as Cameron's alternative use, followed by the 73.5ha Pupuke at $307.2m, 43.7ha Takapuna at $229.7m and 19.2ha Waitemata at $212.2m
Last month the High Court ruled against a group opposing new uses for part of the Chamberlain Park course and in favour of park users. Golf is planned to be retained there but other recreational uses are planned as well.
Read more: Park users win, golfers lose, the battle for Chamberlain Park
Geoff Senescall, Save Chamberlain Park chairman, said more than 94,000 people in Auckland played golf annually, contributing about $54m to Auckland's GDP each year, and numbers were rising. Golf was the "number one participation sport in Auckland. The council should not be messing with the golfers because there's a lot of them and it's an important sport".

"Traditional golf membership in Auckland grew 2.26 per cent between 2015 and 2016," Senescall said, citing NZ Golf numbers.
"Since the inception of counting casual golfers in 2015, registered casual golfers have increased to 32,976 in under three years."
Golfing provides 749 fulltime equivalent jobs for Aucklanders, he said.
A Fletcher Building business bought the Manukau Golf Course, is moving that to Ardmore and building housing on the old course.
Steve Evans, who heads Fletcher's residential division, has expressed strong interest in Auckland golf courses.

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.