$84 million upgrade planned for Tauranga’s waterfront


Plans for an $84 million rejuvenation of Tauranga’s waterfront described as a “hallelujah moment” have been approved.

At a recent meeting, Tauranga City Council commissioners adopted the Tauranga Moana Waterfront Plan.

The master plan includes The Strand car park becoming an open green space with pōhutukawa, a new playground, Masonic Park upgraded and a walkway waterfront from Memorial Park to the city centre.

The Dive Crescent car park will also be upgraded, the long empty waterfront exhibition space Cargo Shed will be refurbished, and a new wharf will be constructed at the end of Wharf Street.

Of the $84.2 million, $43.8 million has been allocated through the $303m budget for the Civic Precinct rebuild. The other $40.4 million is budgeted as part of the wider civic development and will be funded through the long term plan.

An additional estimate of $16.5 million for a wharf in front of the Cargo Shed and The Strand South Reserve had yet to be budgeted for, as the projects had not been costed.

The civic precinct Te Manawataki o Te Papa will include a new library, museum, civic whare (a venue for council and community meetings), an exhibition space and upgrading Baycourt Community and Arts Centre.

It will occupy the land between Wharf Street and Hamilton Street, with improved connections to the waterfront.

Commissioner and long-term Tauranga resident Bill Wasley said adopting the master plan was “a bit of a hallelujah moment”, because there had been plans made for the area since the 1990s.

Wasley liked that it had open green space and was “practical and not laden down with massive building development” which is where earlier initiatives had “ran aground”.

The connection to back to the moana was important too, he said.

“We are a city that has turned its back on the water and not used it for a long time in terms of access, amenity, just being able to see it.”

Wasley said it was also important that the entrance to the CBD from Dive Crescent was being improved as it had been “extremely average” for the 30-plus years he had been in the city.

Commissioner Stephen Selwood said it was an “extremely exciting” project.

“To think that we are now in position where we can move from just doing perpetual plans to actually funding and implementing one, I think is a major milestone for us and deserves to be celebrated,” he said.

“The master plan that we have here is both exciting and I think will be widely welcomed across the community, that finally we’re doing something for the city that really makes a difference.”

Commission chair Anne Tolley said the waterfront was a fantastic part of Tauranga and “the missing piece” was detailed plans for the $10.9 million Masonic Park upgrade.

She said the plans were still being finalised and council was consulting with the businesses that face onto the park.

“We don’t want that to be what it is today, which is just an open, empty wasteland … that’s what it resembles at times,” said Tolley.

The design was to incorporate the park into the civic precinct and pedestrianise Willow Street between the two spaces, she said.

“The intention is so that it’ll be seamless and people will be able to move without vehicles between the civic site right down to the waterfront, through Masonic park.

“We are looking at how we keep that visual from the civic whare down to the moana, but at the same time provide green and shade and inviting places for people to be.”

Wasley wanted to ensure all the funding was “resolved”.

“We don’t want to go back in history and have a project that’s only partially complete.”

Redevelopment of the Dive Crescent car park and the Memorial Park to the city walkway were already underway.

A further $61.3 million of projects identified in the plan include renewal of The Strand sea wall and Fisherman Wharf, and construction of a $50 million transport hub.

These projects have existing funding through council’s marine facilities and transport activities.

Council staff will report back to the commissioners with detailed costings for both budgeted and non-budgeted projects by the end of the year.

The plan will also be subject to consultation through the annual plan process in 2023.