Tauranga boaties are expected to turn out in force to oppose a plan to build a university marine research and educational centre on a greenfield site at Sulphur Point.

Today's meeting of the Tauranga City Council's economic development committee will decide whether to agree in principle to lease the preferred site next to the Tauranga Sport Fishing Club.

Waikato University needs 5000sq m for a purpose-built research facility capable of attracting international collaborations and research programmes to solve key issues for the Bay of Plenty's coastal and marine environments.

Fishing club manager Roly Bagshaw said the club was supportive of the centre but not at this site.

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Sulphur Point was getting stretched by the demands from boats and the infrastructure associated with boating, with a lot of land getting filled up by hardstands. It was nothing to see 40 to 50 boat trailers and cars parked on the land earmarked for the marine research centre, he said.

Bagshaw said the land was needed to future-proof the club. ''The trailer boat demographic has become increasingly important to us in the last 10 years.''

He said losing the site would impinge on the future viability of the club because there were not so many berths left for launches.

''It will choke Sulphur Point and it is not good for the club. We feel they have the wrong site.''

The public forum at today's committee meeting will also feature a presentation from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Regional councillor John Cronin told the Bay of Plenty Times there was a strategic need for the marine centre to be sited on Sulphur Point, with easy access to clean water for research purposes.

''It will have an international reputation. From a strategic point of view, it is a key to the university package and also a key to the tertiary partnership which is unique in New Zealand.''

Cronin said the community good should be paramount.

Other speakers at the public forum will be the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club and Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū's Buddy Mikaere.

A report to the meeting said there was an ''active resource consent'' to redevelop the university's existing research facility at Cross Rd, Sulphur Point. It would provide up to 19,000sq m of floor space up to four storeys.

''However, it is the council's understanding that a potential lease as part of this potential Cross Rd redevelopment is not currently viable for the university's long-term requirements.''

A total of 542 individuals and seven groups submitted on the proposed site, with 64 per cent opposed and 36 per cent supporting. A high proportion of those who opposed indicated they were affiliated with clubs and businesses at the marina, while the majority of supporters were not regular users of the area.

The three hapū with interests in the area indicated they had no issues regarding the site, and supported the university's proposal, subject to conditions.

A council meeting on July 19 will make the final decision on whether to lease the preferred site to Waikato University.


Waikato University's marine research and educational facility
- Specialist marine laboratories and engineering design workshops.
- Environment and coastal planning.
- Innovation space.
- Space to showcase the Bay's marine environment to the public.
- Outside space for experimental tanks and storage.