Legal action "likely" if Rotorua race track sale goes ahead


18 April 2019

The government has been told plans to close Rotorua’s race track could face legal action.

The likelihood of legal action is raised in the summary of submissions on the government’s plans to reform the racing industry.  Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who is also the Racing Minister, outlines the government’s plans for the reform process in a series of statements and documents.

The government will introduce two new pieces of legislation this year to amend the Racing Act 2003 in order to start the transition of the industry. Peters said the Coalition Government had accepted the overall intent of the Messara Report, which recommended the closure of racing tracks 20 mostly-rural areas, including Rotorua.

Rotorua filed the most comments, 44, including a submission with a petition containing 61 signatures.

“A number of submitters raised the legal implications for the sale of race tracks, in particular Arawa Park in Rotorua, and Phar Lap Raceway in Timaru.”

Tauranga (12 submissions) was among a group questioning the choice of proposed race tracks for retention, including location, infrastructure and quality.

The problem for the government and the racing industry with Rotorua is that Arawa Park is half-owned by Ngati Whakaue with the Rotorua Racing Club owning the other half.  The ownership is split roughly down the middle of the land from Fenton Street towards Marguerita Street.

The racing club has built up substantial assets via its share of the landholding, outside the track and its buildings. 

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