A new era dawns for Tauranga's historic Cargo Shed, two years after art market stallholders were ordered to vacate the shed in controversial circumstances.

The harbourside shed will be available to be booked for periods ranging from one day to one month starting this summer, once the council has finished upgrading the Dive Cres building.

Manager of the Cargo Shed's former stallholders' collective Kathy Sass welcomed the reopening. It meant that artists and craftspeople could run exhibitions for up to a month instead of the old system where stallholders were tied to the shed all year round.

Although she loved running a stall, she said it became very tiresome seven days a week, 12 months a year.


''You need a break, even if it is only once a week.''

Sass said the new booking system meant the Cargo Shed could have a variety of users like artists, theatre groups and weddings.

''I imagine any artist with a bit of oomph will use it, even if it is just for a weekend, by creating a market with other like-minded people.''

Some stallholders caught up in the closure after the management of their collective had changed were still bitter at the way they were shut out by the council in September 2016. They were offered weekend use of the shed on a pack in/pack out basis while work on rebuilding the seawall under the shed took place, but this was not practical.

Several interviewed by the Bay of Plenty Times spoke on the basis they were not identified.

One woman said she was disgusted at the way stallholders had been treated. ''There is still a lot of bitterness. I am not interested in going back in there.''

Another former stallholder said as long as the council was involved in the Cargo Shed, he did not want anything to do with using it again. ''They had their chance and they blew it,'' he said.

Colleen Killeen, a member of the creative fibres stall, said ratepayers had lost a lot of money from the council kicking them out and she believed they would not go back again.


Council communication adviser Viktoria Ermes said the upgrade of the Cargo Shed would provide a healthy and safer environment for users.

The council had received 13 inquiries to use the shed on a short-term basis since it closed and six long-term inquiries, but could not progress them because of the limitations of the shed.

Between August 2017 and February 2018 the council could only confirm a booking within a few working days because it required access for contractors and Heritage NZ to assess the planned renewals.

The cost of the upgrade awaited the completion of geotechnical work to allow a better understanding of the foundations. Work on the seawall was completed in May 2017.

Since the closure, the shed had been used to prepare street art for the Paradox Festival, the Edgecumbe relief effort and the last viewing of the Gate Pa exhibition.

Cargo Shed Upgrade

- Begins in July.

- Improved fire alarm and electrical systems.

- Upgrade kitchen and bathroom areas.

- General maintenance and repairs.