After years of discussions and a "very protracted" process, the return of the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park land to Ngati Whakaue is moving closer.

At a Rotorua Lakes Council Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee meeting yesterday the council's group manager operations, Henry Weston, presented a report on the land.

He said two thirds of the roughly 12ha was being used as a commercial holiday park, with the remainder a recreation area and for a small amount of student accommodation for neighbouring Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Ngati Whakaue has argued since 2011 the land should be returned because, over time, its use has been inconsistent with what would be expected to be found on a recreational reserve.

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"The discussions that have gone on have gone on now for a number of years," Mr Weston said.

"The encouraging thing at the moment is that the discussions have been three sometimes four-way.

"Pukeroa and Toi Ohomai have had good discussions and are positive about the potential of their working relationship going forward."

The land may be returned to Ngati Whakaue by way of the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust.

Mr Weston said the committee's recommendations to return the land and to revoke the recreation reserve status would trigger the process to eventually have the land returned.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said the decision had been long awaited.

"We're clearing up a backlog of very small and very complex parcels of land.

"This has been a very, very long progress, very protracted, very frustrating and this is the right outcome by triggering these recommendations today."

Councillor Charles Sturt implored his fellow councillors to support the return of the land.

"This has been before us several times, we agreed to this process some 12 months ago.
This is one of the reserves that was gifted to the people of Rotorua.

"Like any of the other gifted reserves, if the purpose of the reserve changes, it must be offered back to the iwi. I'm of the opinion that this is the best way forward."

The land behind the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park will be amalgamated into Centennial Park.