Tauranga's MP says a council committee has made a "rod for its own back" by choosing Cliff Rd as the site for a new museum.

Simon Bridges said he wanted a museum but was concerned the chosen site was an expensive option and the project would get bogged down in consent issues and iwi consultation.

Councillor Larry Baldock, who led the Cliff Rd vote, said Bridges was "out of touch with reality", while tangata whenua representative Buddy Mikaere said the MP was simply wrong.

Read more: Inside Story: Tauranga's museum debate
Letters to the editor: Museum cost was a shock


In a meeting on Tuesday, Tauranga City Council's city transformation committee voted to recommend the council build a $55.56 million museum on Cliff Rd, capping ratepayers' contribution at $20.56m.

Bridges, who before the vote urged councillors to "forget about Cliff Rd", said yesterday he believed the council could do something "brilliant" in the CBD for $20m.

I have been the biggest advocate of a Tauranga Museum in recent years. We need one. But the costs quoted in the BOP...

Posted by Simon Bridges MP on Thursday, 30 November 2017

"I fear the council is potentially making a rod for its own back with Cliff Rd and making it harder to achieve the dream."

Baldock said Bridges' comments were disappointing. The pair spoke last week and he believed Bridges had understood the benefits of building at Cliff Rd - tangata whenua's preferred site.

The committee had been told there would likely be less government funding available if the project did not have 100 per cent iwi support, Baldock said.

"Why should we shy away from doing what is best for the city just because of possible challenges? We will deal with them as we go. The easy way doesn't always get you the best result."

On cost, Baldock said Bridges was out of touch with reality to think it was possible for the city to build a brilliant museum for $20m. No recent estimates from architects had even come close.

Building a museum in Tauranga had always been a challenging proposition, he said, but it could be done if everyone worked together.

Mikaere said he did not think the council would have any issues with iwi.

"That will be the smoothest part of the consent process. Iwi leaders have seen the conceptual designs and I detect no dissent over them.

"I think Simon is wrong in saying there will be a big argument over the design and that. I think we'll find the people will stand together."

MP Jan Tinetti said she would have been happy with either choice and was excited to have a decision on the table.

All the local MPs would have a part to play in helping secure funding for the project, she said.

Other reactions to the decision

- Tauranga Moana Museum Trust chairman Neil Te Kani was happy the committee had made a decision and said it brought clarity to the project.

- The Elms manager Andrew Gregg was thrilled with the committee's location choice, saying the museum would be connected to the other nearby heritage sites: The Elms, the Mission Cemetery and Monmouth Redoubt.

"This will have a transformative effect on our community's understanding of its past and undoubtedly enhance our appreciation for, and guardianship of, the heritage sites within the central city."

- Developer Bob Clarkson supported Cliff Rd but believed the build could be done cheaper than the council's estimates to date.

"We should be able to do a local build for $25m and $1.5m for design and overseeing the job. I say let's get a local team together and design a building bigger, better, cheaper and partly funded by sponsors. I am prepared to help."

Street view: What do you think about a council committee's decision to build a $50m museum on Cliff Rd, with ratepayer funding capped at $20m?

"I think it's a great idea. If we don't learn our history we can't plan our future."
Gary Christopher, Matua

"I think it will be a good attraction for the city, especially as we know Tauranga is one of the developing cities in New Zealand."
Sartag Singh, The Avenues

"It is a lot of money ... but that's a good place for it. I would say it would be good for the tourists."

"I think there's probably better things the council could sort out with that money."
Roni Beaird, Maungatap

"I think the money could be better spent elsewhere ... [such as] parks and water features that families can go to together and you don't have to be quiet."
Glenn Mason, Mount Maunganui