A Tauranga City Council committee has voted to pour another $1 million into upgrading the city's "iconic" Kulim Park - and finish its promised consultation.

While a local resident was happy the consultation would be done, a hapū spokesman was disappointed a request to reinstate the park's original name, Ōtumoetai, and give the land back to tangata whenua was not discussed.

Planning for the redevelopment started in 2017 with goals including improving paths, roads and parking as well as drainage.

The upgrade was put on hold in February - just before construction was due to start - after residents raised red flags.


The design had been scaled back to cut costs after the cheapest construction tender came in $695,000 over the original $1.3m budget.

Removed features included about $225,000 worth of bespoke waka-inspired macrocarpa bench seats, barbeque facilities and other street furniture.

A sketch of the waka-inspired bench seating. Supplied / Tauranga City Council
A sketch of the waka-inspired bench seating. Supplied / Tauranga City Council

In April, independent consultant Max Pederson reviewed the project and criticised the council for skipping a planned third round of consultation.

Today, the Projects, Services and Operations Committee voted unanimously to recommend the council add $1 million to the project budget and finish the consultation.

The additional $1m would restore the original design, fund the third round of consultation and add a buffer for risks such as an overspend - an issue the council has had with other recent projects including the Durham St upgrade ($3.3m) and Phoenix carpark redevelopment ($490,000).

The funding would come from historic development contributions, but councillor John Robson said that did not necessarily mean there would be no cost to ratepayers.

"The fact that you find $1m down the back of the sofa cushions, and you happen to need $1m, doesn't mean that's the best use of the $1m. Maybe a project down the line would have been a better use of the money, that will now have to be ratepayer funded."

An artist impression of a redeveloped Kulim Park. Supplied / Tauranga City Council
An artist impression of a redeveloped Kulim Park. Supplied / Tauranga City Council

Two councillors described the park as "iconic".


Kulim Ave resident John Little was pleased to see the council would finish the consultation as promised.

Little said he and others still had concerns about the design relating to car parks, boardwalk width, drainage design, security and the amount of green space.

He hoped the council would meet with the group one-on-one to hear their concerns.

He praised the work the council had done to restore the seawall and spread new sand over the foreshore.

Buddy Mikaere of Ngai Tamarawaho said he was disappointed the committee did not discuss mitigations he recommended in a cultural impact report on the project.

The mitigations were briefly raised by councillor Terry Molloy but were not discussed.

Mikaere said they included the hapu's wish for a discussion around transferring ownership of the land to the hapu, which would lease it back on a peppercorn rent as part of a joint management arrangement.

Plans for a similar arrangement for 11 Mission St - currently out for consultation - set a precedent for this, he said.

He said the foreshore was part of a famous historical record where a missionary described seeing a thousand waka lined up along the shore, which the bench seats were designed to echo.