Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill
Hon JUDITH TIZARD (Labour—Auckland Central)
: I move,
That the Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill be now read a second and a third time. I would like to thank sincerely the members of the Local Government and Environment Committee for their prompt handling of this bill. I particularly commend the chair, Moana Mackey, and other members, as well as the staff of that select committee. I have had it reported to me, both from Auckland Tennis and otherwise, that their attention to this bill was excellent, and I think the outcome is great. I would also like to thank other members of the House across the parties for their support of the bill.
The bill is about amending the Auckland Domain Act 1987 to allow the proposed redevelopment of tennis and recreational facilities on the edge of the Auckland Domain in the Auckland Central electorate. It has been owned, of course, by the Auckland City Council since 1893 and is held in trust by the council on behalf of the people of Auckland for their recreation and enjoyment. The council is able to lease parts of the Auckland Domain to organisations—for example, Auckland Tennis, which previously was the Stanley Street Tennis Centre. It has occupied part of the domain since 1922.
We know that across the world tennis has the third-highest annual spectator count of any sport, just behind soccer and Formula One motor racing. Of these three major global sports events, tennis is the only one that hosts major events every year at elite
level. Auckland Tennis hosts two major international events each year, the ASB Classic Women’s International tournament and the Heineken Open Men’s International tournament. These events are important in promoting tennis in New Zealand to an international audience, as well as in promoting New Zealand more generally. It puts us on the map as a participant in international sporting events, providing very high-class competition and spectator experiences, as well as being very popular with participants.
To remain in this lucrative and important circuit, and to retain both these events, we need to meet those circuit standards, which are assessed and reported on every year. The standards include player facilities, media facilities, and spectator facilities. These facilities have been built and upgraded at the expense of tennis supporters in Auckland and more broadly, and the stadium’s facilities to host tournaments are really important and need to be constantly upgraded. The only stadium in New Zealand that can host these tournaments is the ASB Tennis Centre, which is at Auckland Tennis facilities in the Auckland Domain. The last major upgrade of this centre was about 20 years ago, and in order to make sure that Auckland retains its role for New Zealand in hosting these events on the world tennis circuit, the site needs to be redeveloped to meet the increasing standards expected by players, by spectators, by sponsors, by media, and by corporate supporters, as well as meeting the needs of the international circuit.
Auckland Tennis is proposing to lease part of the site to a third-party developer Next Generation Clubs Australia to upgrade the current facilities. Next Generation Clubs Australia is making a significant investment and needs better security over the investment that it is making. No taxpayer or ratepayer money has gone into the capital development of the stadium, nor will it. It is entirely developed through the efforts of Auckland Tennis, its volunteers, and clubs. Tennis is one of the biggest sports in New Zealand in terms of participation, and I would like to assure the House that its facilities are used very broadly for youth girls’ and boys’ tennis, for Māori tennis, and for tennis across Auckland and across New Zealand. It is our elite centre.
Auckland City Council and Auckland Tennis have consulted the interested people in relation to this bill, and I congratulate Graham Pearce and his team from Auckland Tennis on the work they have done with Auckland City Council. But, much more broadly, they have consulted other lessees, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei, the tangata whenua, Transit New Zealand in relation to roading, all relevant Government departments, and many other groups with an interest in matters relating to the Auckland Domain, particularly community groups. In order for the proposed redevelopment to go ahead, provisions of the Auckland Domain Act need to be amended, as they have been for other major facilities, including the redevelopment of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
This bill intends to extend the available lease term from 21 years to 50 years, to make the redevelopment financially viable for the developer. It will allow Auckland Tennis to sublease part of the land to the developer on the same conditions that Auckland Tennis has in its primary lease. There will never be any suggestion that this lease can be privatised or alienated. There will be no transfer of ownership of domain land to Auckland Tennis or to third parties, nor will there be any change in the area of land that Auckland Tennis is currently occupying. The continued public access to the domain and to tennis facilities will be maintained when the bill is passed, and I am assured by Auckland Tennis that it will make these facilities much more broadly available.
I am concerned, as MP for Auckland Central, that the intensification particularly of apartment dwellings in the central business district means that we have gone from a very small population there, to one that I estimate is probably now over 30,000 people. This is up from a bit under 2,000 people in 1996, when I became the member of Parliament for Auckland Central. I have been arguing for open space for facilities,
particularly community facilities. Obviously this major international tennis tournament also needs provision and I am assured by Auckland Tennis that it can find ways to make its facilities more broadly available.
All affected parties were consulted before the bill was introduced. Auckland City Council has also undertaken that it will conduct public consultation processes regarding the issue of the new lease and the sublease in respect of the site, if the bill is successful. I am assured directly from Ngāti Whātua that it is satisfied with the development—in fact, it is quite excited about it. It is interested in the development of tennis in Auckland. Other lessees on the domain, including the Friends of the Domain, will be consulted as this process is conducted.
I am very happy to say that I think this bill has met the test that Parliament sets. The redevelopment will mean that members of the public will have access to world-class tennis and recreation facilities, and this major development will be yet another step in building top-class facilities for New Zealand across a range of sports and other activities. The city has to keep pace with this growth, and we have seen particularly over the last 10 years a massive investment in the central business district’s infrastructure, which of course is to the benefit of the whole of New Zealand. As I keep explaining across New Zealand, if our children and grandchildren do not have these opportunities in New Zealand, they will leave. Auckland is the only international-level city that can provide them.
I am very proud that we are able to pass this legislation today. I think it is really important that, as our cities change and as we intensify, they have all of the infrastructure including public open spaces and community facilities. I will be keeping a very close eye on Auckland City and on the Auckland region as this opportunity and other opportunities develop. The redevelopment of tennis and recreational facilities in the Auckland Domain will ensure that they meet international expectations. We can continue to see this fabulous set of tournaments going ahead. Auckland will remain a part of the prestigious annual circuit for international tennis competitions, and I hope and believe that this will open up other opportunities. Again, I want to thank the select committee and members of the House. I commend the bill to the House.
Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore)
: The Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill goes beyond the issues that are directly in front of it. It speaks of Auckland’s role as a leading Pacific Rim city. Auckland is the only city in New Zealand that can have a genuinely global presence. There are 1.4 million people living there, and it is the principal entry point into this country for virtually all tourists. If Auckland does not succeed at that level of being a leading Pacific Rim city, then frankly our nation will not succeed either. The issue is quite stark when we look at it in that light. Are we prepared to take the steps as a Parliament and as a nation that will enable us to stay in the game, if you like—to keep international competitions, and to give New Zealand the profile and standing that we as a nation expect of ourselves? Think of the alternative. The alternative is that Auckland just slips off the radar of international concern. When people talk about places to visit, interesting things to see, they simply will not mention Auckland or, for that matter, New Zealand. The challenge is becoming sharper as the years go by.
As the Minister has correctly said, there are a relatively small number of genuinely global sports. Obviously soccer is one, along with tennis, golf, rugby, and motor racing. Auckland is fortunate to be able to host two leading contests: the ASB Classic Women’s International, which is a World Tennis Association event, and the Heineken Open Men’s International, which is an Association of Tennis Professionals event. We got those events decades ago, when New Zealand had a substantially higher profile internationally than it has today.
Twenty or 30 years ago New Zealand had more than 2 percent of global trade. Today it is 0.3 percent. That is because a whole group of other nations have been growing, and growing rapidly, particularly in our region. Only about 30 cities hold these Association of Tennis Professionals contests. One can imagine how keenly they are contested for. If we started with a clean sheet of paper would we really be in the running to get these contests? I suggest it would be quite a challenge to do so, and that is why it is so important while we have these contests to do everything we can as a city, as a nation, and as a Parliament, to retain that competitive edge. The truth is there are dozens of cities—particularly in Asia and in the Middle East—that would spend literally millions of dollars of public money if they felt they could gain these contests. There is also considerable attraction in these contests because, of course, they precede by literally days, or a matter of a couple of weeks, the Australian Open. So it is a very good primer for tennis players going to those contests to train up and get themselves ready. Contests in other parts of the world would not have quite such an attractive sense.
We need to capitalise on the advantages that we have by simply having the contests because of our proximity to the Australian Open. But that means we have to do things differently. That, in particular, means renewing the facilities in the Auckland Domain. They were fine facilities 20 years ago, but when one looks at the pictures on the television of the sorts of venues where the other 30 contests are held, one sees that it is absolutely obvious that we have to improve the facilities. Global competitions require global facilities. One has only to ask the people involved in the Rugby World Cup 2011 about that particular challenge. I might add to the Government, in probably its last few months, that it needs to get its skates on to help Auckland and Eden Park get that stadium moving, because it is only, in fact—
Dail Jones: What about North Harbour?
Dr WAYNE MAPP: I think that time has gone. It is now Eden Park. The Rugby World Cup is only 3 years away, and New Zealand is not China. We cannot build stadiums in 6 months.
National is very enthusiastic to support this legislation. Yes, we have some questions around issues with the domain and so forth, but we are well satisfied with the briefings from Auckland Tennis on those issues. It seems to us and, indeed, as I understand it, every party in the House, that it is imperative that we act to retain New Zealand’s competitive advantage and to get a contemporary, quality facility, which will, in fact, be largely funded from outside New Zealand. I guess that tells one a bit of a story, does it not? New Zealand, with 4 million people, and Auckland City with 1.4 million people, now have to basically look outside for this kind of capital to build these kinds of facilities. So as legislators we are prepared to assist, and that means extending the lease period from 21 years to 50 years. If we would spend tens of millions of dollars on a new facility, which there has to be some level of commercial return on, then clearly we have to have a proper and more appropriate lease than 21 years.
The Auckland Domain is actually something of a relic when one thinks about it. Auckland Tennis has been on that site for nearly 100 years. The prospect of it going from that site is simply not thinkable, and no one would really suggest that it is, yet we have locked ourselves into 21-year leases, which presumably just get rolled over every 21 years or so. It would be far better to have a 50-year lease, which would enable the proper level of capital commitment with outside partners—based in Melbourne, in fact—to build the quality of facilities that world tennis will demand. This is not something on which we are in a strong negotiating position as a nation. We have to be competitive, and, as legislators and as members representing metropolitan Auckland, if we do not do these things for our city we will have failed. I know there are members in the House today who might say “Well, it looks like you’re doing something for
Auckland.” But I can say to those members that the whole country benefits. Everyone in this nation benefits when we hold international competitions, because of the flow-on effects. We are all diminished if we lose these competitions.
I am pleased to see today that not only are we doing the second reading but we are going to be doing the third reading, to be able to get momentum and movement during the life of this Parliament. It is, I think, a good thing that the parties have come together to enable that to happen, because that can only happen with the consensus across the House on the important things to do. From time to time it behoves this Parliament, across the political boundaries and across the party divides, to actually recognise the wider New Zealand interest and lift ourselves in order to be able to do the best for our country. This is one of those occasions.
This issue goes beyond tennis. It really goes to the point of whether we are really prepared to stand up and do the things that will lift our nation, build progress, and keep us a leading nation within the Pacific Rim. If we fail in that—and there is a risk of that if we do not do the right things—then we will have doomed future generations of New Zealanders to poverty and obscurity, and all of us wish a great deal better for our nation and for our future generations than that. Passing this bill is its own little symbol of pulling together as a nation and, indeed, making sure that we are seen as a globally competitive nation able to hold globally competitive events.
DAIL JONES (NZ First)
: It gives New Zealand First great pleasure to support this bill, the Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill. As a member who returned to this House earlier this year, it took me a few moments to get to grips with where this place was located, because I have always called it Stanley Street. That is where tennis is played. I had a look through this bill again and again to see whether the place was actually called Stanley Street. In fact, nowhere is Stanley Street mentioned. So I was a bit confused, and I had to make certain from the Minister that it is really Stanley Street—and I will be referring to it as Stanley Street.
Auckland was recently listed as the fourth-best city in the world in which to live, and it well and truly deserves that recognition. One of the best things about being an Aucklander and living in Auckland, especially during the summer, is occasionally being able to spend one’s summer holidays as an Aucklander in Auckland. There are so many things to do. One can walk the harbour bridge, one can go out on the harbour, one can go to Rangitoto Island and, of course, one goes to Stanley Street for the tennis. As an Aucklander, one always knows that when tennis is on at Stanley Street, on about Wednesday or Thursday, if has been dry, it is bound to rain. It always rains at Stanley Street. The number of days it does not rain at Stanley Street, at least for a day or so or half a day, would be few—it is very, very unusual.
I have been going to Stanley Street for the tennis since the 1960s. I went to tennis there when there were grass courts. We had to pay, and I can remember a wonderful game when Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe were playing doubles against a couple of New Zealand players. What a wonderful exhibition of tennis that was! We saw Newcombe go down to love-40 and come back to win his serve comfortably. It was quite extraordinary. The things that tennis has brought to Auckland and, of course, to New Zealand, and what we have at Stanley Street, are there for the benefit of all New Zealand.
Over the years things have changed a number of times. I remember the days when we could sit virtually on the edge and watch Onny Parun and Brian Fairlie have a crack at each other on grass, and watch Parun come back from 2 sets down to win 3 sets to 2, as he did so many times. Then came the move to hard courts and Rebound Ace. Stanley Street is really up to date. It made the significant change to go to Rebound Ace only a short while ago, in order to link up with the Australian Open.
Of course, this is yet another step forward to making sure that the wonderful work done by Auckland Tennis Inc. is aided even further. As we know, Auckland Tennis Inc. has ensured that the prize money available this coming year will at least equate to the prize money in Melbourne, and we might get a few more top players coming to Auckland, both for women’s tennis, which is played in the first week, and for men’s tennis, which is played in the second week. That is quite a change from the days when Maria Bueno would play mixed doubles with men and the tournament was a male and female affair where people saw the top men and women playing at the same time. It has become more segregated, and there is a lot more money involved, but the enjoyment is still there.
Everyone in Auckland should always take advantage of being able to go to Stanley Street. We saw a great turn-out for the women’s tennis there last year with the wonderful young player Marina Erakovic, and with the top American player as well. This type of development will ensure the future of New Zealand tennis. One hopes that we might get some great players once again, especially amongst the men, and I am sure that people are doing the best they can to promote New Zealand tennis. However, the standard is so enormously high and intense in the world today that it seems to be becoming more and more difficult to do so. But young Gareth Jones and others might produce doubles partners, and we might see improvements as far as doubles is concerned.
So New Zealand First wholeheartedly supports this development and looks forward—and I look forward in particular—to enjoying the new facilities, with even more strawberries and cream, as soon as possible in the forthcoming summers.
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote)
: Was that not a wonderful wander down memory lane with the genial old-timer, the tennis spokesperson for New Zealand First, Dail Jones? He reflected back on the good old days, when the Auckland tennis centre was known as Stanley Street. It is a very New Zealand First view of the world to look back, turn the clock back, and recount those great old days on the grass courts. But we in the National Party are very much taking a 21st century view of the Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill. We are looking at this bill, which we are supporting, as my colleague Wayne Mapp said, as part of providing the vital infrastructure needed for sport in Auckland going into the 21st century. Dr Mapp was absolutely right: if New Zealand is to attract top-class events to New Zealand in the years to come, we have to have the facilities to host them.
As Dr Mapp said, tennis is one of the top three worldwide spectator sports, in terms of international reach and commercial appeal. It is the only one of those sports that we host here at the top level. There is, of course, also motor racing and soccer, but tennis is where we are still on the international circuit. We have only one real international city in New Zealand, and that is Auckland, with a population of 1.4 billion.
Hon George Hawkins: Manukau!
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: It is a fact, I am afraid. If we are to attract the top-class events, we need to get people in through the gateway of this country. We have to have the infrastructure there. There is a lot of competition for these tennis tournaments. When we look at the expansion through Asia and Eastern Europe, and at the money that people have in those parts of the world to put into infrastructure, we see that we have to be competitive. There is no question that Stanley Street, as Dail Jones calls it, has done great service to New Zealand tennis and New Zealand sport. But the fact is that it has a capacity of only about 3,000 people. The old Redwood and Yock Stands have done great service, but frankly they are not up to the demands of international sport and the demands of an international audience today. The time has come to make sure that that great facility can be redeveloped so that it is fit for sport in the 21st century.
The purpose of this bill was well outlined by the member for Auckland Central, and I commend her for bringing it to this House—I do not think it will help her a heck of a lot, but it is a good final contribution for her to make, as the member for Auckland Central. As she explained, the bill will enable the domain lease held by Auckland Tennis to be—
Hon Harry Duynhoven: Arrogance tends to bite one in the backside.
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Sorry, what was that, Mr Duynhoven?
Hon Harry Duynhoven: Arrogance tends to bite one in the backside.
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: As she said, the bill extends the lease from 21 to 50 years. That is just as well, because, frankly, by the time the new partner gets to build the new Auckland tennis centre, under the constrictions of the Resource Management Act, a good chunk of those 50 years will be needed in order to have this first-class facility actually pushed through.
The point is that Auckland Tennis needs to have this facility if we are to continue to host these tournaments in New Zealand. We stage two international tournaments a year. We have the men’s tournament, the Heineken Open, which attracts a world-class field. Just to delve back a little into history, I say that this tournament has hosted the recent winner of the French Open, Rafael Nadal, and, going back 30 years, it hosted Bjorn Borg, before he became an international name—I am sure that Dail Jones was courtside there to watch that victory. The Heineken Open has been an iconic tournament, but it faces competition because the Australian Open starts just a couple of weeks later. Warm-up tournaments for that event are held in both Perth and Sydney, and a lot of top players are starting to bypass Auckland and go straight to Sydney, to prepare for the Australian Open. If we want to attract people on the basis of more than loyalty, we have to show that we can host a top-class tournament in Auckland.
In having a facility like this there are wider benefits than just those for tennis. When people come to New Zealand they do not come just to watch the tennis. They will spend money throughout the country, stay in hotels throughout the country, and to go back and tell people what a great time they had in New Zealand. The benefits are even wider than that. The benefits are that the Heineken Open is an ATP tour event. As such, it is shown right around the world, on ESPN and on CNN. It brings New Zealand some of the worldwide recognition that we need if we are to continue to be significant as a Pacific Rim nation.
We also, of course, have the ASB Classic, the women’s tournament that Dail Jones alluded to in his history discourse and spoke eloquently on. That is a major tournament, as well. The status of that tournament has just been upgraded. The prize money on offer will be much higher, and that also means that that tournament has the possibility of attracting a top 10 women’s player to play at it. So that tournament is becoming bigger.
There is no question that when people go and watch sport now, they are demanding to watch it in the surroundings of first-class facilities. I can tell members that sitting in the stands at the Auckland tennis centre can be an unsheltered and, at times, a bit of a sore experience. I am sure that the development that will now take place there will mean that people will think that going to the tennis is a first-class, comfortable experience. Not only will we have great action out on the court but people will be surrounded by the sorts of surroundings that we get when we go to the tennis in Australia.
I turn to the former Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues. Members should note that Labour has officially done away with that portfolio. I am not sure what that says about what Labour thinks about Auckland issues. It could actually be that Labour has seen what is happening to its party vote support in Auckland and decided to give it away altogether. This debate would have been a great opportunity for an update
to be given by the former Auckland issues Minister on the state of Eden Park. We are talking about sports infrastructure, and we have 3 years until we are to—
Jacqui Dean: What about Eden Park?
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Yes, what about Eden Park? We are hosting the Rugby World Cup here in 2011, and we have to know that that park will be ready to deal with the international visitors that will be coming here.
One might ask what relevance that has to Auckland Tennis. Well, the point is that we have to make sure we have a string of first-class sporting venues throughout the country and, of course, in our main international city. If we look at Eden Park, we see that we no longer have a facility in Auckland where New Zealand Cricket is prepared to host test matches, so that has been lost from Auckland. We are using a rugby ground for one-day internationals there, and we are using a rugby ground in Wellington for one-day international cricket games. So we have to look at the issue of sporting infrastructure. As Wayne Mapp said, people are going to come to New Zealand for a variety of reasons. But there is no question that when we can host big-time sports events like an international tennis tournament, or if we can host the Rugby World Cup, that will be one of our gateways to raising our international profile and making sure that people come here, have a good time, and go back home and tell people to visit this country. It is a shame that the former Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues did not tell us what is happening regarding Eden Park, because, frankly, that is a matter of great concern. We have the Rugby World Cup here in just 3 years. Is the stadium built? Is it going to be built? Is all the finance in place? The public need to know—it is about time they were told about that.
But the other interesting thing about this bill is that I can tell that Steve Maharey was not involved in it, because it is all about using private money to provide the infrastructure that a city needs. I commend the Minister Judith Tizard, because, you know, she has deep socialist roots. It must have hurt her to be involved in bringing a bill to the House that will turn a project over to the private sector. That is what this bill will do. We have to face it: we cannot build the infrastructure we need in this country without the involvement of the private sector. Labour has had 9 years to get some of these projects together—9 years—but the only thing we will get from it in terms of private sector involvement by the end of those 9 years will be the tennis stadium. Well, a tennis stadium will be great, and National wholeheartedly supports that, but we would have liked to see more be done. We would have liked to see much more private involvement.
Harry Duynhoven over there is being very quiet, but I think that he agrees, really, with me on that. I think he would agree, really, because there is a lot about our economic views that I think Harry Duynhoven really secretly agrees with. And that goes even for some of those socialists over there—even Dave Hereora. He might not understand the whole thing, but he is being pushed along to embrace this thing about private infrastructure—private involvement to provide the infrastructure a country needs.
In closing, I tell the House that National supports this bill. We think it will be really important to have that sporting infrastructure—to attract the facilities we need in New Zealand. The tennis stadium will be a great redevelopment and a great addition to Auckland, and it will benefit the whole country through the exposure it gives to New Zealand. Thank you.
SUE BRADFORD (Green)
: On behalf of the Green Party I will take a brief call to reassert our continued support for this Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill. I do not have the historical connection with the sport that Mr Dail Jones and others may have, with tennis never having been one of my things, but I am
passionate about the Auckland Domain, where I have spent a lot of time in years gone by.
One of my main concerns with this bill, as an Auckland MP, was about any threat of encroachment on to the public spaces at the domain. I have a real concern about another Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill that is about to come to this House, because part of that bill is aimed at taking out over 1,100 square metres of Albert Park—somewhere else where I have spend a lot of time in my earlier days. I think that we cannot afford, in Auckland, to lose any more of our open green space for any purpose. We need to keep those spaces for the future of the people of our city. The open spaces in Albert Park and the domain are very precious. But my understanding of this bill is that the development does not encroach on to the domain, so we are fine with it as far as that goes.
The other concern I had with this bill was in relation to consultation with local iwi. Obviously, this is an area of great significance for local iwi, and we were worried that in the initial phases, consultation either had not taken place, at all, or was not adequate. I understand from a brief conversation I have just had that there has at least been some consultation now. That concern, hopefully, will be met adequately, so our support continues. Thank you.
Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Māori Party)
: Tēnā koe, Madam Assistant Speaker. Like many others, I would like to take the opportunity to meander through a bit of tennis, having been a small-town champion myself in Hawke’s Bay, and with a love for the game. I have done a bit of research and it might interest members to know that the modern game of lawn tennis takes its origins from late 19th century England, and in particular from Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. It was not long before the finest of indigenous talents had picked up the ball and shown the world what we were made of. We think of such stars on the courts as Ruia Morrison-Davy, the first Māori and the first New Zealand woman to make it to Wimbledon; Kelly Evernden, who represented New Zealand at Davis Cup level; Tūtere Durie, who is competing at the World Junior Tennis Asia/Oceania competition in China; Kataraina Hūnia, who spent 5 months training in Barcelona; Barrett Franks, of Ngāpuhi fame, I tell Mr Harawira, who played in the world junior tennis finals in the Czech Republic; Ngāti Raukawa player Tracey O’Connor; Ngāti Maniapoto player Luci Barlow;
CODE star and Olympic competitor Rewa Hudson; and Ngāti Porou champion Mose Harvey, who in winning the world super seniors 70 plus was the first New Zealander to win a world title in tennis.
The Tainui tennis champ Leanne Baker perhaps best epitomises the lengths to which tangata whenua will go to, in advancing this sport. Two months ago Baker, battling a broken toe, fought on through a 3-hour match to win the United States international tennis tournament in Mazatlán, Mexico. There is a whakatauākī, a proverb, that encourages this never-give-up attitude, which Leanne must know well, and it is one that people in here could follow. It says: “Kaua mā te waewae tutuki e hokia engari, mā te upoko pakaru.”, which translates as “Do not give up and turn back because you stub your toe—only if you split your skull”. There is some good advice there. This incredible international hall of fame may seem a long way away from the days of Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, but it illustrates that even Māori are out there, excelling in the elite sports in almost every field we take on.
I wanted to set out this context in some depth, as way of background to this Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill. But of course when we are talking background, we could go back even further. Māori participation in tennis dates back to the 1890s. In fact, as a descendant of Ngāti Kahungunu I am proud to reveal that the earliest photograph of Māori playing tennis dates back to 1899, and depicts Māori shearers playing on the courts of Elms Hill Station in Hawke’s Bay. In the same year Sir
Māui Pōmare won the inter-varsity tennis championships while he was studying in the United States. Inter-marae and inter-rohe championships for the Tūroa Mōrehu and Marumaru Cups were in full swing by 1910. The New Zealand Maori Tennis Association was formally constituted in 1926 by Sir Apirana Ngata, long before the Auckland Domain was developing the facilities for the Auckland Lawn Tennis Association.
However, tangata whenua have a background with the Auckland Domain that predates even the history of tennis in Aotearoa. Almost 190 years ago, Te Wherowhero, the great rangatira of Waikato, came to Pukekāroa to make peace with Ngāpuhi. When Lieutenant Governor Hobson set about founding Auckland in 1840, at the invitation of Ngāti Whātua—I repeat, at the invitation of Ngāti Whātua—he reserved some 200 acres around the central volcanic cone for parkland that eventually became the Auckland Domain. We can, of course, go even further back. Ngāti Whātua have advised the Māori Party that they have a kaitiaki obligation that stretches back to the 1700s, when the land in question was a waka tauranga, a landing place for waka known as Waipapa.
This history of the tangata whenua relationship with tennis, with the Auckland Domain, and with the Auckland City Council should have been canvassed well before this bill made it to the House. The requirements under the Local Government Act 2002 for councils to consult with mana whenua are not just words on a page or concepts to pad out a policy. The Local Government and Environment Committee stated that it was informed that local iwi had been consulted before the bill was introduced. Yet we wonder who it was that was consulted. Was it Tainui? Was it Ngāpuhi? Was it Ngāti Whātua? Was the Aotearoa Maori Tennis Association involved, or Kīngi Tuheitia, its patron, or its tumuaki, Dick Garratt? When we in the Māori Party approached Ngāti Whātua at the first reading of this bill, we learnt that they were not aware of the bill even being put forward. It is hardly the benchmark of a good relationship on the part of Auckland City Council. The council now has a legal right to the land in question in its capacity as lessor, but that should never have had the effect of denying the cultural interest that Ngāti Whātua maintains in the land, and the ongoing obligation of kaitiakitanga.
Today as we approach the second and third reading of the bill, we have learnt that Ngāti Whātua now gives conditional support to the bill—conditional on tennis remaining as the kaupapa, and not having something else, such as the building of apartments. We would have expected, however, that Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei would have been involved in the planning stages. We would expect, also, that any development scheduled for the site will be required to go through the resource consent process, which again should inevitably involve Ngāti Whātua. It is not a big ask.
The Auckland Tennis Association is a key player in the competitive global environment in which tennis events take place. The ASB Classic Women’s International, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and the ATP Heineken Open men’s tournament are all elite events on the prestigious international tournament circuit. The $25 million upgrade of the Auckland Domain is critical in order for Auckland to be able to maintain a high standard of facilities for players and spectators alike. Planning is currently in progress to develop state of the art tennis and squash courts; gymnasium, creche, recreation pool, and health facilities; and a new on-site car-park. In the midst of such intense investment, we in the Māori Party would have expected that ongoing relationships with mana whenua would be accorded priority.
The slogan for Auckland Tennis is “Hit me with your best shot.” The best shot in terms of actively respecting and engaging with mana whenua is a long shot off, but the game is not over yet. All we can hope is that Auckland City Council does not keep on serving up faults. The future ahead for Auckland Tennis will inevitably require it to
engage in public consultation if it expects to apply for an extended lease, or the right to sublease part of the site. We will follow the lead of Ngāti Whātua in giving conditional support for this bill, but the match point must be that we hope that the overwhelming generosity of mana whenua is recognised as Auckland Tennis moves forward. Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker.
- Bill read a second time and a third time.