Racing Tauranga is in talks with the Government about relocating the city's racecourse to free up land for housing.

Racing Tauranga board chairman Frank Vosper said Racing Minister Winston Peters approached the club about a year ago with an offer of a "state of the art" new racecourse elsewhere in the region.

That would free up the Tauranga Racecourse, which is on 34 hectares of Crown-owned land in Greerton, for housing development.

Vosper said there were ongoing discussions about the proposal and the club was keeping its options open while continuing as usual.


Vosper said the group had another 20 years left on its lease and he did not think the relocation proposal would come to anything any time soon.

Some board members were "totally against" the idea.

Tauranga-based New Zealand First list MP Clayton Mitchell said there was no formal offer on the table but the idea of relocating the course had been presented to Racing Tauranga as an option to consider given they were on a fixed-term lease.

Tauranga-based New Zealand First list MP Clayton Mitchell. Photo / File
Tauranga-based New Zealand First list MP Clayton Mitchell. Photo / File

"From a practical point of view, this is something they should look at with eyes wide open."

The racecourse used to be on the outskirts of town but as Tauranga had expanded it was now considered inside the city, Mitchell said.

"That is prime land for building houses on and there is a shortage of land."

No particular location had been identified for a potential new course, but he said it would make more sense to look east towards Pāpāmoa, Te Puke and Maketū where the land was flatter than west towards the Kaimai range.

He said the ball was in Racing Tauranga's court as to whether it wanted to pursue relocation and the Government was not pushing the idea. Discussions about funding any new course would come further down the track.


Winston Peters was in Washington yesterday and was unable to comment in time for deadline.

The discussion comes amid a major shake-up of New Zealand's thoroughbred racing industry, with an independent report released last year recommending 20 clubs be dissolved.

Racing Tauranga was not one of them.

The Crown land occupied by the racecourse is vested in Tauranga City Council.

Christine Jones, the council's general manager of strategy and growth, said the council was involved in the discussions about relocating the course.

There was speculation in June last year the Government was eyeing the racecourse for housing as part of Kiwibuild.

Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Photo / File
Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Photo / File

At the time, Racing Tauranga said there had been no formal approach from the Government and then-Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford would not comment on the speculation.

Yesterday Twyford, who has since lost the housing portfolio but retained urban development, said he had not been involved in discussions with Tauranga Racing.

"Our Government remains committed to pursuing large scale urban development opportunities in the Bay of Plenty and continues to work with local councils and developers on this."

A spokeswoman for the Racing Industry Transition Agency referred a request for comment to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

The Bay of Plenty Times contacted that organisation but did not receive a response before deadline.