A piece of Whangarei's Barge Park the size of two rugby fields has been bought by a community group for just $1.

The sale, to Whangarei's Agricultural & Pastoral Society, was authorised by Whangarei District Council under the terms of a 1987 agreement, made when the society vacated Kensington Park to make way for its development.

The sale comes ahead of the annual Whangarei A&P Show which starts tomorrow with some equestrian events and then is open to the public over the weekend.

The A&P had leased the 1.56ha site for $1 a year and executive director Malcolm McKerrow said nothing would change under the new arrangement.


"All we've done is exercise our right that was written into the original contract," Mr McKerrow said.

"We've decided that the time is right for us to do that. A lot of people who were party to that agreement are no longer on council.

"We wanted to exercise that right so that it was never forgotten."

The site, near the Maunu Rd end of the park, was primarily occupied by a large shed with bays for various agricultural activities like horse measuring, milking and a cattle wash. The balance of the site was carparking.

The remaining 63ha of Barge Park was still owned by WDC and the A&P Society had a second lease for the land around the Barge Events and Conference Centre.

Mr McKerrow said ownership allowed the society "some degree of control" over the land, though there were no plans to further develop the section.

"As far as the ratepayers are concerned, there will be no change to the passive recreation they currently enjoy. We're a community organisation."

Thousands of people will descend on Barge Park this weekend with none of the usual merry-go-rounds and other carnival attractions. While the fun fair adds noise and colour to the show, it is not related to the agricultural sector at all, organisers said.


Instead, the show will return to its roots - demonstrating pride in the land and in the produce generated from it, whether this is the finest animal, the highest performing horse or pony and the sharing of information.

This year's show reintroduces past traditions like home industry classes including baking, brewing, crafts, preserves, photography and woodwork.