Jump start in Rotorua

A Rotorua submission to try to retain Rotorua’s Arawa Park as a horse racing venue is far from certain. But it has a starter’s chance.

Mary Burgess, spokeswoman for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), has confirmed no decisions have been made whether to close or retain Rotorua as a racing centre.

The Messara report, released late last year, recommended the closure of Rotorua, while retaining courses at Tauranga and Taupo.

Other courses throughout New Zealand were under similar scrutiny in a sweep of recommended changes to the NZ racing industry.

To many locals, this represented yet another blow to a city which over many years has seen businesses and institutions fall under Tauranga or Hamilton umbrellas.

Last week one senior Rotorua Lakes Council councillor, Charles Sturt, heralded success over a Rotorua submission to retain Rotorua.

He followed a statement by Rotorua National Party MP Todd McClay who also rejoiced at what appeared a volte face.

Sturt said: “(I’m) delighted that our submission to retain racing at Arawa Park by council local MPs racing club and me have been successful as even NZTR recognise Rotorua is needed.”

Change had to happen, he said. “Let’s get behind Rotorua Racing Club to ensure it goes to the top as a racing training and horse centre. I note other tracks are programmed to close but can still race at other venues.

“Congrats to mayor Steve Chadwick, Todd McClay MP, my colleagues who supported Rotorua District Council submission and those individuals who took time out to go into bat for Rotorua.”

Mary Burgess has confirmed, however, submissions on the Messara report went to Department of Internal Affairs.

“No one has heard anything regarding them,” says Mary.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has appointed the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to work through the Messara recommendations and report back to him late February or early March.

“With the NZTR venue plan, this is a consultation document and clubs are being invited to make submissions by 19 March,” Mary Burgess said.

NZTR is encouraging clubs to work with others in their region and come up with solution which works best for them.


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