Tauranga infrastructure “needs a defribillator”

Anne Tolley. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly.

A Tauranga City Council commissioner says the fast-growing city will pay in other ways if it does not invest in infrastructure.

Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta decided to appoint a commission in December last year after an independent review found significant governance problems within the council.

The team is chaired by former National MP Anne Tolley.

She is joined by former Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Stephen Selwood, Resource Management Act and Māori engagement expert Shadrach Rolleston, and town planner and former chair of the Smart Growth regional planning forum Bill Wasley.

The commissioners were tasked with nursing the beleaguered city back to health after years of quiet dysfunction behind the scenes of the council was compounded by public infighting among elected members last year.

This morning, the commissioners fronted for business leaders during a hui facilitated by the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.

Tolley says the city has a population of 150,000 and is the fastest growing in the country.

It also had the largest port in the country, which is key to the economy of the wider region.

"Tauranga City is the heart of the Bay of Plenty. On arriving here, we discovered its arteries are clogged and needs a defibrillator."

A lack of infrastructure investment has been flagged as an issue by neighbouring councils, with a previous Tauranga City councillor admitting that public backlash is one of the reasons rates were not increased to facilitate growth.

Tolley is shocked by the lack of investment in the city.

"In my 30 years in politics, I don't think I've ever seen a community that has been so poorly served with their community facilities. I could not believe the lack of investment."

The commissioners are preparing the city's long term plan (LTP) for the next 10 years.

Tolley told business leaders that the LTP will seek to catch up on past under investment in community facilities, such as parks.

She says it will also facilitate future growth by investing in vital infrastructure, such as roading and water pipes.

"No matter what happens, this city will continue to grow," she says.

Tauranga ratepayers are facing a proposed 12 per cent rates increase, while the commercial rate differential is due to increase from 1.2 to 1.6.

Commissioner and infrastructure expert Stephen Selwood says no-one wants to pay more rates, but there is no alternative.

"The reality is that if we don't invest in our city, we fail our businesses, we fail our families, and we fail our communities. The city is the platform on which we enjoy life - we pay in other ways if we don't invest," Selwood says.

Underinvestment will show in a variety ways, such as inadequate community facilities and clogged transport systems, he says.

"All of those issues are costs we pay in another way."

Commissioner Shad Rolleston says Tauranga City needs the support of neighbouring councils to tackle some of its pressing issues, such as a lack of land for housing and commercial development, along with the tick of approval from businesses and tangata whenua.

Commissioner Bill Wasley echoes that, saying different entities needs to have the attitude that working together is the path to success.

A business leader asked the commissioners what would stop another dysfunctional and inexperienced council being elected, once the commissioners handed the reins back to elected members in October 2022.

Tolley says that concern highlights why the LTP is important.

Many planned infrastructure projects will not break ground for a few more years, but those plans needed to be set in stone so that the brakes could not be hit, she said.

"It does weigh heavily on our minds that we have a short time to bring about some major changes."

-RNZ/Jean Bell.

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State highways

Posted on 07-04-2021 17:31 | By Kancho

Absolutely agree with you motorhead. Sadly council is playing the game and not standing up to government on funding of a proper fix of the main routes. A bit like katikati bypass and omokoroa been talked about ad nausem for years and years

State highways

Posted on 06-04-2021 17:44 | By o0motorhead0o

Yes TCC has a lot of catching up to do with old worn out infrastructure, that is because the old guard councilors didn’t want to lose the grey vote by putting up the rates accordingly for the previous 30 years. Yes there has been bungled projects, phoenix concrete jungle in the Mt, the failed parking building in town etc. But the biggest problem in our city is mobility! And unfortunately we are held to ransom by NZTA as it is their state highways surrounding and crossing through the city which are woefully inadequate and causing the bottlenecks. Sh2 upgrade has been on the cards since 1992... nothing is going to be done with the highways in the city in a hurry!

Council Problems

Posted on 01-04-2021 09:24 | By margaret mary

The council is a customer of the ratepayers. The Councils job is to ensure that money is spent on infrastructure. There are 4 core jobs of council Waste Management Drainage & Water Parks Planning & Transport Planning Why does the Council need a new building. Is this a palace for the Chief Executive and his employees. Give the Commissioners a chance and if not happy refuse to pay for them

pup tents

Posted on 31-03-2021 20:16 | By hapukafin

nothing wrong with our infrastruture.couple of tents are very comfortable under the Chapel St flyover tonight.


Posted on 31-03-2021 16:10 | By Kancho

Are the tool of government. Does this mean we should not point out failed projects and ask them to be more careful with projects and planning to stop waste and to not making things worse. Of course government is putting up the money as we are broke but it’s up to the commissioners and planning staff to do better than previously. A green agenda no doubt. Cameron road project will push traffic to other routes so hope there is a plan for Fraser street and route K improvement too. Another entrance to route K at the pioneer village better exits of route K and Cambridge road ...up to them


Posted on 31-03-2021 15:43 | By

Your right there has been three high profile failures. Though not all of those are the Councils fault. However your point on ’unwanted’ is where Tauranga has a bigger problem. Many people want to see successful projects like Wharf St, Hotpools, Baywave waterplay area, harbour steps, airport refresh, recycling, Street Light Replacement, but not everyone will want these projects. That’s the nature of a city, you can’t and never will please everyone. but sometimes you have to accept that the greater good is a play - IMO.


Posted on 31-03-2021 15:30 | By

My guess is that you are a cyclist (one of the biggest roadblocks to traffic flow and infrastructure development) had you read the article you’d have noted the total lack of comment about cycle lanes or bus lanes (more often than not, impeded by oblivious cyclists) In fact there was comment about clogged arteries.... I don’t suppose they’re clogged by cyclists that aren’t using the clearly defined cycle lanes in favour of cycling over the harbour bridge or around roundabouts rather than using multimillion dollar overpasses or marked cycle lanes around them. But your hobby has been built into stupid legislation that obstructs development and community interactions rather than enhancing it.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 31-03-2021 15:08 | By

@informed. I suggest most of us already know that. Doesn’t change the situation in anyway Can’t complain because it’s an instruction that has come from govt? Quite an Illogical argument and very poor attempt to quiet people. Wasted money is wasted money. Failed road planning is failed road planning. Empty busses are empty busses and rates increases covering previous TCC failures are rates increases covering previous TCC failures. The main problem here is we are not confident at this point that these botch jobs will stop in the near term. But agreed. We really need changes at parliamentary level. That is where council should tell the govt we aren’t doing that and the ppl don’t want it. As I’ve said rates increases are fine and understandable. The complete waste of money is not. More Parks we are almost insolvent. But we need more parks...lord help us.

Problem is...

Posted on 31-03-2021 14:07 | By jed

Ratepayers are paying, but council is wasting so much of that money on failed projects. The list of failed projects is extensive... my ’total’ rates are higher than the equivalently priced property in Auckland or Hamilton. There is talk in Mt Maunganui of a mass exodus of longer term property owners as the rates are getting out of hand , pushing towards 10k a year for many owners. Many older people especially. Last years increase of 15%, this years 20%, and up to 9 more years of 20% increases as reported.... all because council have wasted so much money on failed and unwanted projects.

Get informed

Posted on 31-03-2021 11:36 | By

The usual players are out complaining. But please Sunlive, do some work to inform your readers. You can’t attack the commissions or council for following what the national policy statements require of them. As an example. Council have to include cycle-ways and bus-ways in transport. It’s the current national policy and therefore there is no way to ignore it. There are many examples that are the same. So Sunlive could really benefit the community by actually telling their readers about this.


Posted on 31-03-2021 11:25 | By Accountable

were the commentators in this article when the previous Councilors needed support instead of the constant criticism they received? At leased half of the Councilors were genuinely trying to make a difference without prejudice but because of the publics choice of the last Mayor and of course the unfavorable press that the mayor created meant that we have lost a some very good Councilors who will be sorely missed. Who would want to become a Councilor when the commissioners are suggesting we need a better class of candidate than previous councils. They are creating higher expectations that will be unachievable by most candidates unless we have a top heavy offering of the so called professional class which isn’t the best way to represent the majority of the people.

Tolly clearly is not competent

Posted on 31-03-2021 09:33 | By

What a con-job, this piece is pure propaganda to try and confirm the Labour mouth pieces are doing a good job. What a farce you are, how is $46M turning Cameron Road from 4 lanes to 2 with bus and walking going to help ? Its not, its purely the agenda of Labour to force people out of cars to use public transport which is a joke. Ms Tolly is simply a moth piece for the same big spend agenda on things that we cant afford.

Finally some vision

Posted on 31-03-2021 09:01 | By First Responder

Finally someone with some real vision. The place has been run like a geriatric hospital for the last 30 plus years. Forget altering Cameron Rd, 4 lane Turret Road, 4 lane Cameron Rd to Barkes corner, Greerton Roundabout needs 4 lanes with lights, fix Cambridge Rd/State 29 intersection. We’ve got a bunch of traffic engineers, sitting their time out until retirement, doing nothing positive. Keep this city moving.


Posted on 31-03-2021 08:53 | By

Are parks and reserves a top priority for our city...? All of our schools have acres of open space and very well equipped and maintained playgrounds, but I don’t imagine for a moment that these are identified as a shared cost option for council. I would suggest a few good quality destination parks such as Memorial, Fergusson, Morland Fox, Gordon Spratt, etc.. be invested in and the dog walking green spaces be planted as vegetation reserves without any need for the playground equipment, that gets vandalised. Vegetation reserves cost much less to maintain and there’s the option to plant trees to assuage the green movement. Reducing the empire building parks and reserves department, saving maintenance costs and better reflecting the principle use of most city greenspace.

Ratepayer Backlash

Posted on 31-03-2021 08:40 | By Kancho

From my perspective its not the rates or increase which is inevitable with inflation and work required. My main gripe has always been waste of money especially badly executed projects. This failure from staff as much if not more than the politicians. I hardly need to list projects that failed and cost far more. Seems some of the commissioners have some previous responsibility in former positions ? I dread the Cameron road project as the only example I see everyday is Greerton Village. I hope the commissioners look very carefully at plans conjured up and what they rubber stamp as the previous egregious failures rankle with ratepayers.

Poor analysis of the problem

Posted on 31-03-2021 07:25 | By Cynical Me

Perhaps Ms Tolley would be better to listen to others rather than those who have an agenda, well publicised, and lacking in historical facts. So much of what is being pushed is simply not correct.

Really? where is the NZTA funding we should have?

Posted on 31-03-2021 07:20 | By Cynical Me

The TCC apart from its obvious mistakes has actually done very well with its infrastructure. Where it all falls down is that NZTA haven’t invested in our roads as it should and the county doesn’t pay TCC for the county residents use of the TCC ratepayers facilities. so we have 55000 ratepayers paying for the cities residents and the 70 % of county residents who roll into town and use the town facilities free of charge. The county needs to be included in the TCC as does the Regional council. Until that happens we will continue doing the same thing as has been happening for the last 40 years to more. Flogging the TCC ratepayers for the benefit of the county and the screams of all the want to haves won’t fix anything. TCC built and paid for a bridge, an expressway and a motorway.