I love the Tauranga CBD. I’ve got a sense of each building’s history and what was, now is and could be, having lived here for 20 years.

But there’s no denying it’s now in dire straits. You only need to head up Devonport Rd from the Strand to see every third building untenanted. The malls and various villages have taken over as Tauranga’s grown.

Our CBD needs revitalisation because, like a human, a city of Tauranga’s size and potential needs a heart. Let’s remember lots has and is happening that’s exciting. Trustpower moved into town with many workers, and now we’ve an impressive Waikato University Campus - albeit not all workers and students are back in town yet following lockdown which normalised working from home.

Additionally, the Farmers’ build is, I believe, the biggest private development happening in New Zealand at the moment. When it’s finished it’ll make a big impact.

However, we can’t just rely on these things. Local government and the newly re-elected Labour government needs to show leadership. To me the following should happen quickly:

  1. Council (or the commission now) should decide where its new buildings will be once and for all and make them happen. I’m told a number of private developers won’t do anything in the CBD until they’ve certainty on this.
  2. The Labour government should chip in significantly and build a CBD museum to house our taonga and tell our stories. This doesn’t need to be a palace. Other excellent regional museums and galleries have been built in the recent past for $20-30 million.

Many of you will have other ideas, and so do I when it comes to parking and relief for retailers etc, but these two things would go a good way to making a big difference.

Simon Bridges
National Party MP