Rotorua MPs and racing participants are welcoming an alternative proposal on the future of Rotorua's racetrack.

In September last year a report commissioned by Racing Minister Winston Peters and overseen by Australian racing administrator and breeder John Messara was released.

The Messara report recommended reducing the number of race tracks in the country from 48 to 28 over six years. Racing clubs would remain but not necessarily have a home ground.

It recommended the closure of the Rotorua track from the 2023/24 racing season and prompted outcry and shock in Rotorua.


But this week New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) released its own proposal on the future of race tracks in New Zealand suggesting 21 racing venues close by 2030 - leaving them with just 27. Rotorua's closure was not recommended.

NZTR said its report was unrelated to the Messara report titled Review of the New Zealand Racing Industry.

The reports also differ in regards to the Te Teko track with the Messara report recommending it remain and serve Rotorua racers, the NZTR report recommending it go.

Last year Racing Rotorua chief executive Damien Radesic said the Messara report had come as a shock and if acted on would have a "detrimental effect" on the Rotorua economy.

Racing Rotorua chief executive Damien Radesic. Photo / File
Racing Rotorua chief executive Damien Radesic. Photo / File

On the NZTR report, Radesic said the recommendations were exciting.

"NZTR's recommendations make sense for racing in the Bay of Plenty."

In the proposal, the number of race days in Rotorua would reduce from 11 to eight.

"As long as we keep racing. To have a slight reduction but keep racing, for us it's a great outcome."


Racing Rotorua made several submissions on the Messara report and Radesic said they would meet this week to discuss the NZTR proposal.

Track Racing Rotorua committee member and horse breeder Bill Pomare said he was happy with the NZTR recommendations.

"We hope they will follow through. We'll be much happier. I think it's probably the right thing to do because we have good infrastructure and a good set-up.

"I'd be very thrilled if we could carry on racing in Rotorua."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he had received a lot of feedback from locals who want to keep racing in Rotorua and he had made a formal submission on the Messara report to retain the Rotorua Track.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Photo / File
Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Photo / File

"There are a growing number of people who are extremely worried that racing could be lost to our city under the Government's review," he said.

"The proposal by NZTR to retain Rotorua as a strategic racing asset is welcome news but it is only a small reprieve unless the Government rejects the Messara recommendations and keeps racing in Rotorua."

Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey said the racing industry and Government both agreed a shake-up was needed.

Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey. Photo / File
Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey. Photo / File

He said nothing was finalised but it appeared McClay was on board in realising the need to act and shake-up the industry.

Coffey previously wrote a letter of support for Radesic to use in a presentation to the NZTR board.

In it he wrote he was supportive of NZTR's review of the Arawa Park Racecourse.

"[I] strongly feel that it will expose this landmark's ability to become even more of an asset to our community, visitors and guests."

Coffey wrote he hoped iwi could be included in any processes because local iwi supported its establishment.

"Rotorua is perfectly placed to continue to provide racing services for the region, in a location unique to anywhere else in the country."

Rotorua-based deputy leader of New Zealand First Fletcher Tabuteau encouraged those with concerns about the racing industry to read both reports.

"The Government commissioned the Messara report because it needs help to revitalise the racing industry. NZTR is also examining ways to revitalise the industry, such as ways to have better community and regional racing, and address the long-terms issues."

Rotorua-based deputy leader of New Zealand First Fletcher Tabuteau. Photo / File
Rotorua-based deputy leader of New Zealand First Fletcher Tabuteau. Photo / File