Big group behind rugby union plea

By Alexandra Newlove

8 comments
The extra cost of building on unstable land at Pohe Island has seen Northland Rugby Union ask for another $850,000 from ratepayers to help construct their new base. Photo / Tania Whyte
The extra cost of building on unstable land at Pohe Island has seen Northland Rugby Union ask for another $850,000 from ratepayers to help construct their new base. Photo / Tania Whyte

Ceaseless requests around rubbish, rates and roads have been joined by a fourth 'R' this year - rugby - with 118 submitters backing Northland Rugby Union's plea for ratepayers to contribute to its new Pohe Island headquarters because of the extra costs of building on unstable land.

The requests for $850,000 towards building the rugby base came in the form of 118 identical submissions - nearly half the 268 Whangarei District Council received on its 2016/17 Annual Plan. Eighty-seven of these submitters will be heard in person in council chambers this week, kicking off on Tuesday and watched by a packed public gallery.

NRU wanted help with the high cost of building on Pohe Island, an unstable former dump site owned by WDC.

Building the 2200sqm facility would require concrete piles to be driven deep into the ground, topped with a concrete slab which would provide stability if the ground sank unevenly. NRU asked WDC to cover the $850,000 cost of this, but said it would raise the other $3.2 million itself, $1.9 million of which had already been secured.

NRU would lease the site off WDC on a peppercorn rental agreement.

"The NRU believe the responsibility of supplying a site that is 'fit for purpose' rests with the landowner," Mr Parkinson said.

NRU had been granted resource consent to build the 6.7-metre-high building bracketed by five new rugby fields at William Fraser Memorial Park on Pohe Island.

The facility would also house the Northern Referees' Association, Te Tai Tokerau Touch Old Boys/Marist rugby clubs and some Whangarei Youth Space services.

The draft Annual Plan indicated WDC would have an average rates increase of 3.9 per cent next year.

However, some farmers faced up to 21 per cent, due to property revaluations which saw rural properties rise in value by about 15 per cent. Federated Farmers had submitted against the rural increase, in a year where dairy farmers were struggling more than ever, they said.

Petitions were received from four groups. Twenty-six residents at Parua Bay's Nook and Tahunatapu roads requested improved infrastructure, 72 signed in favour of improved road safety at Western Hills while another 350 signatories supported new footpaths at Whangarei Heads.

Another 19 submitters wanted council to delay the amalgamation of their offices in favour of sealing rural roads.

Alex Wright, leading Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety, would continue her campaign to get council to fund the sealing of Wright and McCardle roads, where residents were subjected to dangerous levels of dust.

- Northern Advocate

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