Some Welcome Bay residents are vehemently opposed to carving up a public park for a future supermarket in the area, others have given the suggestion their support.

In 2016, a commercial assessment revealed Welcome Bay could support a small-to-medium-sized supermarket, and an independent review agreed with the findings.

Two council-owned sites, Waitaha Reserve and Owens Park, were put forward as options.

Brian Dwyer, 73, of Welcome Bay said to suggest that any public park should be carved up to make way for a future supermarket in the area was a "very bad idea".


"It would have a detrimental effect on this community. We're already struggling with traffic congestion on this road and it would only make it even more difficult if they decide to plonk a supermarket in this area.

"Any Tauranga City councillor who votes for this proposal needs to be immediately removed from office and should never be allowed to return again."

Welcome Bay resident of 27 years Alan Northcote is also strongly opposed to building a supermarket on council-owned land, especially Waitaha Reserve.

He said from his research, the reserve and buildings bordering it got close to 500 uses per week and it would be a massive loss for the community if it was taken away.

Activities such as the Western Bay Baptist Church services, line dancing, after-school gymnastics and community Zumba classes held in the Welcome Bay Hall could be on the chopping block, he said.

"Put the people first, not just the piece of land."

Back when the discussions first began, he said he "tramped the hills" to deliver flyers urging people against the proposal to contact the council.

He said Owens Park was hardly a realistic option because it was "cold, wet and hardly drained".


Community consultation in 2017 revealed 66.5 per cent of people surveyed backed the potential development of one of the council sites.

In Northcote's opinion, the survey did not accurately cover the Welcome Bay population.

At the council's Urban Form and Transport Development Committee meeting last week, Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless supported the project moving forward but said he would not vote for any future recommendation to build a supermarket on a public reserve.

Anna Larsen from the Welcome Bay community centre said she had seen a lot of public feedback online from people keen for a supermarket, but many were also strongly against Waitaha Reserve being used.

With no viable land for the site, the community was between "a rock and a hard place", she said.

She said pulling the Waitaha Reserve out of the 1977 Reserves Act would be extremely difficult and would likely turn into a "political hot potato".


Local iwi said from the beginning that they were not in favour of Waitaha Reserve being used, Larsen said.

The council has also held talks with some owners of privately owned commercial-zoned land in Welcome Bay.

Once ratified by full council, the two council-owned sites and existing privately owned commercial zone land in and next to the existing commercial centre will be assessed.

Council staff will report back to the council in June.

Street view

The Bay of Plenty Times asked locals how they felt about a supermarket being built on a reserve in Welcome Bay.

"I think it's a good idea as we really need a supermarket in the area. I would have no concerns about giving up some public space to get one."
— Matt Gaspar, 24, Welcome Bay


"As long as they don't remove too many trees or bush, I think Owens Park would probably be the best choice."
— Paul Johnson, 40s, Welcome Bay

"I'd do more shopping in Welcome Bay if it had a supermarket and I would have no concerns about using Owens Park. I think lots of other people would agree."
— Savita Dagg, 28, Ohauiti

"I'm all for either site as ultimately, having a supermarket in Welcome Bay will be the first step to attract more businesses into the area, which is good for the whole community."
— James Lawson, 39, Welcome Bay

"People do need places close by to do their supermarket shopping but I'd rather drive another five minutes to shop than lose a public reserve."
— Nate Herman, 20, Welcome Bay