Tauranga Community Survey

Sustainable Bay of Plenty Trust has partnered with Papamoa Residents & Ratepayers Association (PRRA), Mount Maunganui Ratepayers, Residents & Retailers (MRRR), and a number of other community groups to undertake a survey on some key Tauranga sustainability issues.

This came about after Tauranga City Council’s 2024 Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation in November-December 2023 left out water supply, wastewater and stormwater expenditure after 2025 – despite the new government stating the responsibility for three waters infrastructure would remain with councils.

In early January, about a dozen business days after public consultation ended (and in response to a letter from Local Government Minister Simeon Brown), Commissioner Tolley emailed Sustainable BOP to tell us that the Council had changed its mind and decided to include three waters in its LTP.

That has drastically changed the Council’s plan. It means total ratepayer debt is now estimated to triple over the next decade, from $1 billion to $3 billion – massively higher than the $1.34 billion stated in the consultation documents. Rates will now increase by 156% over the coming decade – about three times what was stated in the consultation.

Yet TCC has so far refused to re-consult on its plan, despite Minister Brown saying “I expect to see the wider community consulted on any significant decisions, just as would happen under an elected council.”

This community survey was undertaken in response to TCC’s decisions, to seek the views of Tauranga residents on the key issues – including whether the Council should re-consult on the LTP.

We have just tallied up the survey results, after receiving 1506 responses. There is overwhelming support for the Council to re-consult on its plan and the vast majority of people want the elected councillors to make final decisions on the 2024-34 plan.

Summary of Results:

  1. 92% want mayor & councillors elected in July 2024 make all key decisions.
  2. 92% want Tauranga City Council’s revised Long Term Plan (LTP) to be subject to new consultation.
  3. 95% prefer Council cut back on some projects to keep debt down.
  4. 94% want a cheaper Civic Centre option (41%), or neither the full or cheaper civic centre options (53%).
  5. 90% do not support TCC’s proposed Smart Trip road pricing scheme.
  6. 96% do not support ongoing ratepayer funding of growth (via rates and ‘off the books’ IFF levies) and want the government, developers and/or new residents to pay for all growth infrastructure.
  7. 83% do not support the proposed Tauranga Domain Stadium (another 12% only support stage 1)
  8. 86% do not support residents paying much higher user charges for the use of sports fields, boat ramps and other council facilities.
  9. 85% do not support TCC’s plan to close Otumoetai Pool in return for a new Memorial Aquatic Centre.
  10. 94% support more transparency and putting the proposed Sulphur Point Marine Park development on hold until an elected council makes the final decision.


  1. This needs to be in the media, it would be interesting to hear the Commissioner’s views on these resounding responses. The last I heard on RNZ was everything was wonderful in Tauranga.

  2. I found your survey poorly constructed. If I remember correctly there were only two
    options for each questions. One was support the LTP the other to cut spending. There were no options to give other ideas or to say you were unable to decide.
    I am afraid information from this survey cannot be taken seriously.

  3. I also believe that the Survey could have been much better delivered, did not allow for much boarder views and opinions, and therefore influenced the results to achieve a desired outcome. I have invested time into understanding the what and why’s led to the commissioners being brought onboard, and the reasoning behind their decisions. Much of the reasoning behind their decisions stem from the neglect of the cities existing assets and lack of investment in the appropriate infrastructure of one of the fastest growing cities in NZ. Essentially Tauranga is playing catch-up to meet the cities needs.

    1. We acknowledge your views on the survey. We would have loved to have funding for a randomised survey undertaken by a research company, but had to just do our (collective) best.
      The one thing I’d question is your comment James about “the neglect of the cities [sic] existing assets and lack of investment in the appropriate infrastructure”.
      I think it’s fair to say that about Tauranga’s transport infrastructure, and indeed all previous mayors and councillors have pushed for more government support to deliver better transport infrastructure. However it seems unfair regarding the city’s water infrastructure. Past councils have done a pretty good job at providing good-quality water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across the city. The problem is that residential ratepayers have had to heavily subsidise the infrastructure needed to cater for all the fast growth.
      We think the previous government and Commissioners have unfairly condemned those previous councillors. Like the Commissioners, they did some things well and other things poorly. The difference right now is that unelected Commissioners are making unpopular choices to fund expensive non-essential projects that could condemn the city’s residents to a future of unsustainable debt.

      1. There is far more to a cities infrastructure and development than the essentials like water, waste and drainage, especially if you wish to keep the city vibrant with options around activities, services, events and sports. The lack of confidence in the past from Tauranga residents in the councillors was reflected in their rating, so it did not seem that the tax payers thought much of the councillors either. both parties have made unpopular choices, but feel that the commissioners had at times had little choice with consideration of the economics to aging assets that have had little investment in their maintenance or investment in their replacement.
        I do agree that our rates have heavily subsidised the growth, and its a pinch that all of us as rate payers feel, and yes, the debt is a significant concern. But what are the alternatives? consideration of the choices that were made, and a call to look deeper into the reasoning behind those decisions is what I an trying to convey. although I might not agree with some of the choices and decisions, I can understand some of the reasoning, especially when considering the wider picture of trying to provide for all our diverse residents in this beautiful city of ours. its impossible to please 100% of the people 100% of the time, and even through consultation, some decisions would have needed to be made that will be unpopular.

        1. We completely agree that there is much more to city infrastructure than roads and water pipes. However in response:
          1) The Commissioners have been far less popular than all previous mayors and councillors, according to TCC’s own surveys.
          2) They have spent far more money on expensive ‘nice to haves’ (whether good or bad, they are not essential as defined by law)
          3) Those expensive projects are concentrated in the central city, and (a) if successful, they will result in massive debt and a high carbon growth model & (b) if unsuccessful, will be such a drain on ratepayers (about $50m per year for just the major projects) that they will preclude future councils from spending as much (as I’d like) on much-needed community infrastructure.
          4) Their proposed fee increases could destroy the city’s social fabric and drastically cut participation in sports and recreation activities.

          It’s obvious that people want a combination of better infrastructure, less congestion, and lower rates increases, and the only way to get the best of all those is to:
          A. Get more central government funding (the cheapest form of debt) to help pay for the growth infrastructure that central government has created the need for.
          B. Fund a public transport system (50:50 with NZTA) that provides a genuinely attractive alternative for a significant number of locals, thereby helping relieve congestion.
          C. Cut back on expensive high carbon projects (exhibition centre, stadium) and use the money to fund local community facilities and much-needed transport projects.

  4. Great to have this call for accountability against the TCCs mandate of growth at all costs. TCC must be transparent about what the true costs to current and future ratepayers will be, and what the benefits really will be…

    1. Yes, that’s the key issue Jon. There has been a lack of transparency and council needs to clearly lay out the big picture and all the costs and benefits.

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