Tūrangi is more than 50 years old, and it's showing its age.

The town, which was built in the 1960s and 1970s to house the workers on the Tongariro Power Development scheme, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, and while half a century is a milestone for a town, it's not a great age for a building.

Tūrangi-Tongariro Ratepayers Association chairwoman Sandra Greenslade says the town's facilities are showing their age and maintenance is no longer the answer. She told last week's packed Tūrangi community meeting that it's time the Taupo District Council faced up to the fact that the town's Senior Citizens' Hall, gym and i-Site need to be replaced, rather than continually being patched back together.

"Don't put another red cent of my hard-earned money into a liability," Greenslade told councillors.

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"The ratepayers of this town are happy to contribute, we want to contribute but we don't want to contribute to any more dead liabilities."

More than 250 people attended the Tūrangi Senior Citizens Hall last Thursday night. Zane Cozens of the Tūrangi Action Group and owner of Bayleys Tūrangi, said Tūrangi locals could give their views on what they saw as under-investment by the council in the area. Submissions to the council's Long Term Plan and a letter from the Tūrangi-Tongariro Community Board had raised concerns and all were ignored, he said.

Residents spoke of uneven footpaths, untrimmed trees, shoddy buildings and poor facilities which were not maintained properly. Many were openly incredulous when council chief executive Gareth Green told the meeting that the council's spend in the Tūrangi-Tongariro area had been $14.1 million in the last year.

Mayor David Trewavas said until last week he had assumed there was enough money being spent in Tūrangi but the community had highlighted its difficulties.
Mayor David Trewavas said until last week he had assumed there was enough money being spent in Tūrangi but the community had highlighted its difficulties.

Local business owner Paddy Morgan said council staff should be in Tūrangi doing their job, but weren't.

"Your staff that you employ in your divisions are not doing their job properly. These people need to get off their backsides and get out in the greater district and do their jobs."

George Asher said the real issue was councillors taking hold of the concerns and assigning responsibilities.

"We want visible action. Please take these issues seriously, assign somebody or appoint new people to help your current staff, give us some experts to talk with so we can look through these issues and find our own solutions together."

Mayor David Trewavas said until last week he had assumed there was enough money being spent in Tūrangi but the community had highlighted its difficulties.

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"I promise as mayor we will attend to as many of those issues as possible. I promise this evening we will be working harder."

Councillors said they were disappointed to hear that the community felt it was not being listened to and said they were committed to trying to address the community's concerns.

Zane Cozens.
Zane Cozens.

Cozens asked for a forensic accountant to go through the books and the council to reconsider Long Term Plan submissions from Tūrangi and the letter from the community board.

While unbudgeted expenditure, such as the cost of a forensic accountant, would have to be approved by the full council, Mr Trewavas agreed to a three-month time frame to get those matters moving.

Greenslade said after the meeting that she believes Tūrangi's outdated town centre is no longer fit for purpose and holding the town back and it is an issue that can only be tackled with the council's help.

She also did not want to see a knee-jerk reaction to community concerns.

"The Tūrangi-Tongariro Residents' Association view is that we don't want another thing added to this town until we assess what we're already getting, what's needed to be got rid of and then come up with a master plan so that we all know know where we're going."

Tūrangi's requests

•Changing facilities at Tūrangitukua Park, a cultural events and sport centre, a new i-Site/council hub.

•Reappointment of a Tūrangi-based council area manager.

•Tourism capability building. Taupo district's rebrand to Love Taupo and marketing linking Taupo and Mt Ruapehu were sore points.

•Direct application to money from the Provincial Growth Fund rather than via Taupo.

•Halt the Long Term Plan rollout while Tūrangi's aspirations are incorporated.

•A community development fund with $20 million over 10 years, $2.5 million of that to fund a needs analysis for Tūrangi for a master plan for the town.

Sports clubs' despair at state of Tūrangi sportsgrounds

Tūrangi sports club organisers and volunteers say while they do their best to provide sports opportunities for the town's young people, the town's sports facilities are so run down that it's almost impossible.

Cristina Duff and Joan De Petra of Tūrangi Angels Netball Club say they can't blame netball players who don't want to come to Tūrangi in winter to play on dangerous, uneven courts that are poorly drained, slimy in areas where the water ponds, cracked around the lines and slowly disintegrating.

The carpark is unlit which makes it hard to see anything outside the courts' perimeter at night, there are weeds instead of shrubs in the gardens and weeds growing through the court surfaces.

Club members scrub the slimy patches before games to try to reduce the slipperiness but that in turn causes the surface to break away.

Netball is popular in Tūrangi , with some 15 teams across the various clubs and schools. The club has fundraised hard and has its own goal posts. It has lights and furniture donated from Rangipo Prison plus a lease on the pavilion which it is trying to gradually restore from the run-down state it was in when the council gifted it to the club.

Joan says while the club has great community support, a decent playing surface is vital to providing a safe facility. With only three courts it doesn't have the luxury of retiring some from use, and it can't use the courts at nearby Tongariro School because the gates are locked after hours.

"We should not have to beg for what should be spread around the whole community. Moving to one rating system meant that we had the ability to call on that money."

The Tūrangi Dambusters Rugby League Club is similarly unhappy, this time with the state of Tūrangitukua Park which has tree roots growing across try lines, undrained fields and a carpark that regularly floods, as well as a substandard toilet block which was locked during training times so there was nowhere for players to use a toilet.

Nicole Donaldson of the club says for years the club had been asking for improvements. The council has installed temporary changing facilities and toilets in shipping containers but they were finally only put in in September, after the league season had already finished. New ones are set down in the Long Term Plan for the upcoming financial year but Nicole said she was worried the container changing rooms would become a 'temporary permanent' facility.

"It's hard to host a home game here or put our hands up for a home game when I know that they are going to rock up to these facilities here. It's embarrassing.

"We are begging even for maintenance and it's just piled up and people are getting sick and tired of it. We shouldn't have to ask for maintenance of the field, it should be done. We try really hard to get kids off the streets and we can't give them anything, it's really really sad."