New Zealand's most outspoken economist has renewed his call for Auckland Council to sell its golf courses for housing, saying the "rich" are getting a massive subsidy.

Shamubeel Eaqub, the former NZIER principal economist who last month announced he was leaving to take on a portfolio of new activities, this morning tweeted his opposition to the council holding such a huge land bank.

Shamubeel Eaqub. Photo / John Stone
Shamubeel Eaqub. Photo / John Stone

In June, Eaqub said he wanted the golf courses sold and this was published in a book he had written.

Asked for a more detailed explanation, he said he thought it was wrong to have so many hectares of land tied up in public ownership across the city when that very same city was suffering a desperate shortage of land for residential development.


That situation had resulted in rich people effectively getting a subsidy from the publicly owned organisation by locking that land away from development options, he indicated.

"It looks like a subsidy for the rich when the council has well-placed land that could be at least partly used to supply significant intensive housing," Eaqub said.

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Eaqub's tweet: "Golf is dying and Auckland council owns the land for 13 courses. Rethink?"

Asked how many golf courses the council owned, a spokesperson said the number was in fact 14, not 13. Asked whether the council was considering widespread golf course sales, a spokesperson only gave brief information about the situation.

"We own 14 golf courses in the region," the spokesperson said.

Eaqub went further, demanding to know financial details about those courses.

"I want to know what return Auckland Council gets from these clubs and what return the clubs make," he said.


This week, Mt Albert-Eden Local Board approved plans to cut the 18-hole Chamberlain Park Golf Course in half, even though locals said it was the only affordable golf course in the region and drew up to 50,000 rounds of golf annually.

But board chair Peter Haynes said the 75-year-old, 18-hole course was not heavily used, the area had the lowest amount of open space in the region and the park must be opened up for public recreational use.

Council parks, recreation sport policy manager central Paul Marriott-Lloyd said none of the five council-owned courses within the rural urban boundary of the proposed unitary plan were coming up for lease renewal before 2020.