The backers of a planned tertiary campus in Tauranga have welcomed the announcement that $12 million could be spent improving the waterfront and beautifying city streets.
The plan has been welcomed by new city tenants Trustpower, which will be moving into its new offices, currently under construction, this year.
But a local business owner says for the waterfront to be vibrant improvements first need to be made to the waterways.
On Wednesday, Tauranga City Council's elected members voted 6-3 to invest $12 million in the waterfront, subject to consultation.
Projects include creating three public accesses to the water from The Strand, either steps or pontoons, turning the Northern Reclamation carpark into an empty green space suitable for events, and beautifying the streets, particularly in Durham St where the new tertiary campus and Trustpower buildings will be situated.
Each of these projects is subject to consultation separately and will have to go through a detailed business analysis.
Suzi Luff, Trustpower's community relations co-ordinator, said the company was supportive of future development of the waterfront.
"It will inject some vibrancy into the city that will attract people, talent and the solid business that comes with it."
But Maui Ocean Products owner Simon Marshall disagreed.
His business had been located on the waterfront for 13 years and he said the waterways needed to be utilised before any developments to the land were made.
Water events brought a city alive with participants and spectators, he said.
Mr Marshall said he would like the council to remove the moorings off The Strand so regattas, waka ama events and other water-based sports could take place.
"You don't just throw $12 million at a park and create a need for it."
University of Waikato deputy vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones said the proposal would be great for people attending the new university campus.
"It will bring people and businesses into the CBD, it is a good move.
"The better environment we create, the more connected the people are and the more we have for the students to do, it becomes an interactive place."
Maori oppose plan to delay building of waka house
Tauranga Maori are expected to unite in opposition to the council's plan to further delay construction of the waka house on the downtown waterfront.
"It's not going anywhere fast," said Peri Kohu of Judea-based hapu Ngaitamarawaho.
The council this week decided to spend $12 million to continue the revamp of the waterfront but pushed back the starting date for the waka house by five years to 2021-22.
Mr Kohu said he was disappointed, particularly after the council last year postponed the project by a year, to a new completion date of 2017. The latest council decision pushes back completion of the waka house to 2023 in its draft 10-year plan, with the waterfront's priority for the next three years being the planning, consenting and construction needed to give people access to the water. "We have been disappointed over the last 20 years - it's moving at a backward pace," Mr Kohu said of previous councils' stop-start approach to development of the waterfront.
He said the council's balance sheet mentality was doing the community an injustice. "There is still an element of visionary thinking that needs to happen."
Mr Kohu and other leading Maori want to find a new home for Tauranga's "hidden" waka. The waterfront waka house would replace the obscure Te Urunga (shelter) at the end of The Strand that holds Te Awanui, a waka carved in 1972 from a 300-year-old kauri. He said the council was still learning the ropes.
Mr Kohu was confident they would get support from Maori "right across the board" for a submission to the 10-year plan seeking to bring back the date for construction of the waka house.
Street View: What would you like to see at the waterfront?
"They might need more than $12 million but if they could do what Cairns has done and create a real focus from a sports point of view. I think we need to utilise the water."
- Ross Morgan, 60s, Avenues
"I'd want to see that $12 million put somewhere else. How about a train that goes to the Mount? That would be great, especially with the cruise ships coming."
- Helen Kensington, 63, Merivale
"Maybe some paddle boats or something. It would be good to get the dolphin tour from the Mount here as well."
- Jasmine Richards, 20, Mount Maunganui
"My concern is where is everyone going to park that uses it? I'd like being able to access the water."
- Sarah Mills, 23, Cherrywood
"Townsville has rock pools with somewhere to swim in, it works really well there and I think that could work here too."
-Rebekah Binns, 26, Judea
"I like the playground down there, anything like that would be good. Maybe another shop or something else a bit more child-friendly like an ice cream shop."
- Eru Piwari, 24, Gate Pa
"I think we need more parking, there's not much down there anyway. There's already a playground there. It's a lot of money to spend."
- Janelle Kerslake, 17, Greerton
"Some sort of water activities down there, like a water Zorb, or kayaks, or a paddle boat."
- Arna Stacey, 18, Te Puna
"I think that's a whole heap of money that could be put somewhere else. I think it's cool as it is, I don't think it needs anything else."
- Olive Rydlova, 37, Mount Maunganui
"Surely there's something better they can do with that money. I'd rather see them using that money for something else, rather than pumping up the waterfront.
- Georga Lyons, 21, Bureta
- additional reporting John Cousins