A new turf for Eden Park is testing the definition of what is an essential service under the national lockdown.
The self-proclaimed national stadium is working to grow and install a new turf, saying any delay could jeopardise the field for next year's women's rugby and cricket world cups and national kapa haka competition, Te Matatini.
A park spokeswoman says its advice from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is critical work on a new turf can continue, but an MBIE spokesman told the Herald turf maintenance is not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken.
"We expect businesses to act responsibly in the interests of keeping everyone safe. This includes both businesses and the public making the right calls about what is an essential good.
"To slow the spread of Covid-19, we need as many businesses as possible to close," the spokesman said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today said she is "frustrated" by reports of people not following the lockdown rules as police launched an online form for the public to report people breaching the rules.
Between one and three park staff have been working at the stadium's turf farm at Karaka in South Auckland during the lockdown, where a 14,000sq m hybrid surface is beginning a critical germination phase.
Eden Park said every possible precaution is being taken to protect the health and safety of workers in line with the Ministry of Health's guidelines for essential workers.
Karaka resident Joe Bremner said as a business owner who has had to stop work and see his wife go work at the hospital every day he found it intolerable to see park staff working at the farm.
He complained to Auckland Council, which told him they had an assurance from Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner that the park is able to maintain its field and turf farm.
Bremner responded to council that planting grass on a farm had nothing to do with the necessities of life, saying his advice from MBIE was "it will be very hard to get an exemption for this".
Eden Park said it contacted Sport New Zealand on the matter and was directed to MBIE which "acknowledged that Eden Park's new replacement turf management scenario warrants consideration".
A short time later, the Herald received a media statement from MBIE saying "turf maintenance is not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken at this time".
The Herald sought a response from Eden Park.
"Eden Park is following direct advice received from MBIE on Friday 27 March that the stadium is able to maintain its turf farm. The stadium will continue to liaise with the appropriate agency as the situation evolves," the spokeswoman said.
The turf matter could be another blow for Eden Park, which told councillors 10 days it has $7 million of revenue at risk from the coronavirus and is facing a scenario where there is "zero revenue".