Hands off Tauranga Racecourse

By: Sideline Sid

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Sideline Sid doesn't often get on his soapbox to voice his opinions out loud - however a SunLive piece last week got him hot under the collar.

The narrative concerned a Tauranga City Council study of the Tauranga Racecourse Reserve into the future. One option on the table is to relocate the racecourse and golf club and use the land for housing.

Thoroughbred racing in Tauranga dates back nearly 150 years. The Bay of Plenty Times reported a meeting of gentlemen held in the Tauranga Hotel in November 1872, to organise details of a race meeting.

The outcome of the gathering was a race meeting set down for the January 1 1873. It was to be held on the Government Paddock, near the military camp, situated at the Monmouth Redoubt.

Following the race meeting at the Government Paddock, officers and men of the Redoubt, supported townsfolk for the formation of a racing club and the acquisition of a suitable course.

Another meeting was held and 33 members joined up on the spot. Action was the order of the day with the Government Paddock to be abandoned as a track, and plans were made to hold a the next race meeting at the new course a few days after the first January meeting in Auckland.

A Bay of Plenty Times piece dated August 23 1873, reported on a meeting at the Masonic Hotel to secure a racecourse reserve for Tauranga. The Chairman briefly explained, that a certain portion of land situated in the neighborhood of Gate Pa, had already been reserved for a racecourse.

Up to the present time no gentlemen had appointed Trustees of the same. The period (3 years) allowed by the authorities for conveying the site was rapidly expiring and unless Trustees were elected very shortly, the reserve would again fall into the hands of the Government, and probably be sold.

A further Bay of Plenty Times report dated September 2 1973, stated that Mr Williamson MP in reply to a telegram, informed the Chairman of the (Tauranga Jockey Club) committee, that the racecourse reserve would be kept for the purpose for which it was set apart, and not be sold.

Thus the present racecourse at Gate Pa came into being with the first meeting at the Gate Pa course, held on the January 8 1874.

It was interesting to note, that the Tauranga Golf Club didn't join thoroughbred racing at Gate Pa for some considerable time. A Bay of Plenty Times extract in 1913, said a Special General Meeting of the Tauranga Golf Club was held to decide upon links for the future.

After some discussion, it was decided to make a new course on the (Tauranga) Domain for next year and arrange with the trustees of the racecourse reserve, for a nine-hole course for the following year.

Today, the Tauranga Racecourse Reserve has become an integral part of our city, with a myriad of sport and healthy lifestyle recreational activities taking place seven days of the week.

Tauranga City Council keep your hands off the Tauranga Racecourse Reserve.