Work on a new $1 million turf for Eden Park has had to stop after Government officials apologised for initial advice under the national lockdown.

The stadium continued work on growing a new turf at a farm in Karaka following the lockdown after receiving the okay last Friday from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

But after confusion among stadiums and Sport New Zealand on the issue, MBIE said it had worked with stakeholders to clarify the situation.

"We have apologised for the advice and the confusion over the initial information originally provided. We have confirmed that the proposed activity is not an essential service," MBIE said in a statement.


The Government's Covid-19 website has been amended to state "turf management is not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken at this time".

The clarification is a blow for Eden Park, whose trust chairman Doug McKay said all it was trying to do was grow some grass at Karaka, where a 14,000sq m hybrid surface is beginning a critical germination phase.

"If we don't, we will lose $1m worth of work," he said.

Eden Park said between one and three staff have been working at the stadium's turf farm since the lockdown following the Ministry of Health's guidelines for essential workers.

The new turf is being provided by HG Turf Group in Melbourne, who are believed to have had staff working at the Karaka turf farm during the lockdown. HG Turf managing director Hamish Sutherland referred questions about how many staff were working in New Zealand and when they entered the country to Eden Park.

The Herald has put questions to Eden Park about the HG Sports Turf staff but not received a response.

James Parkinson, the director of Auckland Council's stadiums, said all turf management was stopped on Wednesday last week in accordance with the Level 4 requirements.

"Eden Park is the only stadium I'm aware of around the country that continued active management of its turf past last Wednesday," he said.