In-depth articles

The $69 million question: restoring Yarrow Stadium

What shall we do with a broken stadium?

Fix it up like it was, or go for broke and turn it into a 1000-seat convention centre? Read how the powers that be Taranaki local government and sport  have agonised over the best way to restore the province’s only major sports arena. CLICK HERE

Taranaki Regional Council Media Release

Issued following a full meeting of the TRC on May 21 at which a modified and slightly cheaper plan to restore Yarrow Stadium was adopted.

Stadium vision reaffirmed as revised repair programme approved

The Taranaki Regional Council has reaffirmed its vision for Yarrow Stadium as the country’s premier international-grade regional venue, and has revised the repair and refurbishment programme to reduce the impact on ratepayers.

The stadium project is now proceeding on a budget of up to $50 million, with outer field updates on hold pending further discussions with the wider sporting community. The budget was up to $55 million in initial proposals.

Rating formulas have also been tweaked to further ease the burden on small businesses in New Plymouth and North Taranaki.

And the Council will tell the Yarrow Stadium operator, New Plymouth District Council, to seek ways to encourage increased use of the facility by a wider range of sporting and non-sporting organisations.

Today’s vote was unanimous, with one Councillor absent from the meeting.

Vision for Yarrow Stadium

The Council Chair, David MacLeod, says he’s pleased with the way the community took part in the consultation process leading up to today’s decisions.

“We heard from a lot of different people with a lot of different views, some of them more informed than others. It’s always challenging to assess a large number opinions and suggestions, but I was glad so many people took the opportunity to participate.

“After we’d heard from everyone, we asked ourselves again what we need to achieve. After a lot of discussion and deliberation, we concluded that the vision adopted in 2015 still applies.”

The vision is:

The best regional stadium in New Zealand that regularly hosts national and international sports and entertainment events.

A stadium for both major events and community events and the premier outdoor field for team sports codes.

A stadium that is loved by sports fans and the local community.

A stadium that is a quality experience for event promoters, participants and spectators, which is achieved through superior event facilities, presentation and management and through the early adoption and smart use of technology.

“Clearly, we must reinstate what we had, with updates that are necessary to meet current and foreseeable requirements for such venues,” says Mr MacLeod. “Weighing up all of the submissions, we’re confident that the community largely shares this view.”

“We need to be clear that this is a repair and refurbishment project. We’re working with the Stadium we already have. If we were building a new one, a different approach might have been possible.

“It’s also misleading and misrepresents the situation to say we need to spend only $33 million or $36 million to fix the grandstands, and can do without the refurbishments.

“It’s a false option. Just fixing the grandstands would not result in a fit-for-purpose, usable Stadium. The refurbishments are included because they are essential – replacing end-of-life lighting with up-to-date LED fittings is but one leading example. Doing without them is out of the question.

“These refurbishments continue a development programme that was formed in consultation with the wider sporting community, and well before the earthquake-prone issue arose. Nothing has changed – apart from a not-to-be missed opportunity to get them done most efficiently while repairs are under way.

“The refurbishment programme was being funded from the previous Yarrow Stadium rate, which is now replaced by the new rating arrangement that also includes the cost of grandstand repairs.

“We listened carefully to, and empathise with, the sporting codes that told us they feel left out. We want the stadium operator to make the facility a usable proposition for as broad a range of codes as possible.

“And in the run-up to next year’s Long-Term Plan, we’ll seek feedback from other users about the merits or otherwise of the outer field updates that are currently on hold. We’ll have a clearer picture of actual repair costs by then as well, and we’ll be able to review funding arrangements.

“However, discussions about local sporting venues and facilities belong first and foremost in district council forums. The Taranaki Regional Council funds Yarrow Stadium as the region’s platform for national and international events. But there is no legal basis for us to be involved in local sporting facilities. We won’t go there.”

He says the Council will continue to seek further outside funding assistance for the repair project, and the option of a bigger main stand extension remains on the table in case external funding becomes available.

Cost and rating

Mr MacLeod says real concern over the cost of the project was evident in many of the submissions read and heard by Councillors.

“Trimming the budget by $5 million is a direct response to these concerns. But we acknowledge some may still be disappointed, either because they think it should be further reduced, or because they wanted to go ahead with everything in the original budget or even spend more. ”

He says the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce made a convincing case for the Council to rethink its rating formulas for New Plymouth and North Taranaki businesses.

“So we’ve tweaked it so that small commercial enterprises in the north don’t face the same bill as large, well-resourced operations,” he says.

Project scope and rating – the details

The $50 million covers repairs to the earthquake-prone grandstand and consequential changes, and important updates including additional food and beverage outlets and toilets, technology upgrades, LED pitch lighting, car park improvements, maintenance and grounds storage sheds, gate improvements, new South Terrace seating and reinstatement of field 1.

The new $50 million budget includes $1.6 million for contingencies.

Previous rating for Yarrow Stadium is discontinued and replaced by these new rates. The Council has also confirmed a nil rise in its general rates for the coming year.

The Yarrow Stadium project is being funded with these rates:

New Plymouth/North Taranaki households and farms: $70.34 a year ($80.89 incl GST)

New Plymouth/North Taranaki commercial: Total rate will vary by size of business. Most will pay between $200 and $600, with some higher and some lower.

Stratford and South Taranaki – all ratepayers: $47.30 a year ($54.40 incl GST).

“This has been a hugely difficult issue for Taranaki to face,” says Mr MacLeod. “It’s been a tough decision. We’ve listened very carefully to the community’s views, and discussed the issues at length.

“Now it’s time to get cracking, fix Yarrow Stadium and take Taranaki forward.”

Pohokura 2

Fuel Sell

What kind of future does Taranaki face now one of its two key economic pillars has had the wrecking ball swung at it? READ MORE: Fuel Sell

Water, water – but not everywhere

New Plymouth people are among the biggest water wasters in the world, according to their local council. Are we really that bad? No…but that’s unlikely to stop the council introducing compulsory water meters. READ MORE – Water, water …not everywhere


The story of New Plymouth’s most accomplished mayor. And this question – will he stand again? Lean’s Times


McLeod & R Park HR

New Plymouth ‘s rugby arena, Yarrow Stadium, is in trouble – both grandstand complexes have been closed as earthquake risks. The ground can still be used, with crowds sitting at each end. What is the future for the stadium? And how did it get there in the first place? Read the full story HERE> The battle for Yarrow Stadium



New Plymouth nearly lost one of its prime reserves, the Fitzroy Golf Course, this year. After this was written, the idea’s main champion, Mayor Neil Holdom, backed off the plan. He had little choice after hundreds of people made submissions to the council deploring his intention. Read how it happened: The Fitzroy golf course story


Handley at Colson RdWill New Plymouth ratepayers be shelling out millions and millions for waste disposal over the next couple of decades? New Plymouth District councillor Richard Handley has other plans:  Zero waste


Taranaki surf breakThere may be dangerous bacteria and viruses floating around in Taranaki’s renowned surf breaks – but how would we know? Surfers want Taranaki Regional Council to start testing the surf for bugs:  Water bugs


Dementia centre planPlans for a super-modern dementia care centre – developed with the help of the world’s leading researchers – will be built soon at an idyllic Taranaki setting:   Maida Vale’s bold plan

Banner pic‘Swimmability’ is the new political buzzword being used about the state of our rivers and beaches. But what about our surf breaks, of which there are about 80 in Taranaki that are used year-round? How safe are our surfers? Find out here:  Swim-inability Article

We’re also running a survey on surf break health risks. Please fill it in by clicking Taranaki Surf Break Health Safety

The Fourth EngineA bunch of leading Taranaki innovators is offering free advice to people with inventions, on how their creation might be turned into commercial success. Read about the ‘fourth engine’ of the region’s economy: The Innovators

George Mason bushwalkThe story of Taranaki’s most generous environmental benefactor, Dr George Mason. He’s giving millions to ensure research continues into what makes the planet tick: Dr George Mason

Witt lead picTaranaki’s polytechnic needs to reinvent itself to help stem the loss of the province’s young people. Read how Witt plans to do that: Sharpening our Witt

Lead CathedralHow they’re going to save New Zealand’s oldest stone church – Taranaki Cathedral in New Plymouth: Saving our soul

Hospice Herosim lr

It’s a quarter century since New Plymouth got its first hospice, set up in a disused Taranaki Base Hospital ward. Today it’s well-appointed stand-alone facility – but getting there meant political infighting that lasted a couple of decades. Read the history here: Hospice Heroes

Roebuck farm (1) LR

The Sheep Whisperer

Jodi Roebuck is a Taranaki sheep farmer whose sheep run after him, and a pasture and seed man with such revolutionary ideas he’s in demand around the world as a speaker and trainer. See what makes him so interesting: Sheep Whisperer

Seabed mining

Why a mining company wants to dig a big hole in the South Taranaki seabed using a method never tried on this scale before – and why a lot of people want to stop them: Seabed mining

Gavin Faull

A businessman with a world-wide business tells why he retains his ties to the small North Taranaki settlement of Tikorangi: Gavin Faull story

Super rugby preview

How two Taranaki high schools help shape the future of New Zealand rugby: Nursery Tales


Neil Holdom was as surprised as anyone when he was elected mayor of New Plymouth in the October local body elections. In this story, he talks about what happened next – and what he has planned for the district: The Accidental Mayor


How Taranaki is coming back from its worst recession in a generation


judd-and-feedback-lrJUDD-GING ANDREW

My interview with out-going New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd: andrew-judd-interview-full-text

 Council candidates 3NEXiT

What happens next with our local body politics

Why New Plymouth is facing the biggest disruption to its council in more than a generation: NEXIT

Jam 3 June 3 2016Our new front door

Originally budgeted to cost $16 million, the new northern entrance to New Plymouth has come in around $24 million, and there’s more work to be done before we get a smooth ride: New front door

Coach Colin

Coops 1The man who trains rugby coaches as well as players

Colin Cooper is less well known is his extraordinary success as a mentor to up-and-coming coaches: Coach Colin

Len Lye shy

Curator rejects a call to show more of his kinetic sculptures

Len Lye building

The managers of New Plymouth iconic Len Lye Centre say they can’t display more than four Len Lye kinetic sculptures at any one time. Here’s why: Len Lye sculpture scarcity  And here you can read why I think the managers are wrong: Why they’ve got Len wrong

Waiongana footbridge

The day the you-know-what hit the fan

An investigation into whether millions spent on fixing Waitara’s sewage problems has done the job. Click here: Waitara’s sewage dramas

TailsJet-star wars

How a budget airline is changing the way we fly

Australian cheapie airline Jetstar first landed in New Plymouth on February 1 this year. JIM TUCKER looks at what it’s done to our travel. ROB TUCKER took the photos: Jetstar Wars

Mooloo reviewedFerdi-Mooloo

With Super Rugby about to kick off, Jim Tucker re-examines the deal that put Ferdinand and Mooloo in the same paddock: Mooloo reviewed

Susan Rogers-AllanWhatever happened to…Susan Rogers-Allan

Taranaki is renowned for shipping out natural gas and dairy products, but it exports another product, as well – people. Live magazine is tracking some of them down, and in this article we find out: Susan Rogers-Allan

Silver – the new goldGwen Green

A new economy is developing in Taranaki, a phenomenon that threatens to engulf everything from real estate to health services.

JIM TUCKER looks at how we will cope:  Silver the new gold Nov 2015

Pressing On:

Re-invention of the daily news

DN Blg 2 LR

An era lasting 163 years ended when the Taranaki Daily News printing press shut down for the last time on May 15, 2015. JIM TUCKER examines big changes at our local rag: Pressing On

Collins LRForward Momentum

How the Taranaki rugby team intends to make more history. After winning the national provincial rugby competition last year, the Taranaki Rugby Football Union looks at how to repeat that first-time success. JIM TUCKER rates their chances. Live magazine, August-September edition, 2015

READ the original HERE> and the Live magazine version HERE>

LL Centre 1 lo resLen and I

The remarkable story of how New Plymouth businessman and engineer John Matthews got hold of the Len Lye kinetic art collection for his home town,  which has just completed its new $11.5 million Len Lye Centre (pictured).

Click HERE> to read the article that appeared in Live magazine’s June-July edition, 2015, and HERE>  to see the version which appeared in the August, 2015, edition of North & South magazine.

 Avoiding the R.I.PFitzroy Jan 9 2014 2pm 5 LO-RES

With school pools closing down and fewer kids being taught to swim, Taranaki’s prime surf beaches have become even more hazardous. JIM TUCKER and CHRISTINE WALSH look at what’s happening to keep our children safe.

Click HERE> to read the article, which appeared in the February-March, 2015, edition of Taranaki’s Live magazine.

Mt Messenger Tunnel 1 (comp)For Trucks’ Sake

In the heat of the 2014 election campaign, Prime Minister John Key promised something the people of Taranaki have yearned after for 175 years – a better road north. Or did he? JIM TUCKER looks into what opposition politicians dubbed a classic case of “pork barrel” politics.

Click HERE> to read the article.

Published in the December-January, 2015, edition of Taranaki’s Live Magazine: HERE>

Barbara McKerrow #5Waitara land that cost many lives makes yet more misery

Waitara’s Pekapeka Block may rate as the single most controversial piece of ground in the country. More than 150 years after it touched off the European-Maori land wars, JIM TUCKER looks at the plight of people still despairing over its disputed ownership. Photos by Rob Tucker.

Click HERE>  to read the article.

NZ – January, 2014

briggs 1Ronnie’s dad and the wall of death

For a generation, they led the world of speedway. Another generation later, Barry Briggs, Ronnie Moore and Ivan Mauger met up in New Plymouth for a reunion. JIM and ROB TUCKER talk to Briggs about Kiwis success, a dozen mates in wheelchairs, and that haunting smell of the speedway track.

Click HERE> to read the article.

Taranaki Daily News, October, 2013

2 Responses to In-depth articles

  1. Peter Watt says:

    Hi Jim. Fantastic, comprehensive overview of The Daily News and the state of journalism, thanks. Now I will meander through the rest of your site. I was hoping to see your own opinion on what’s going on. I’m suspicious of comments from so many vested interests. Your views would have been more than appropriate if you’d interviewed your typewriter:) Cheers and all the best, Peter Watt


    • Jim Tucker says:

      Hi Pete. Great to hear from you. So, my own view. Hmmm.
      I think there’s always a risk when you appoint someone editor who has comparatively limited experience, but then you could ask: compared to what? In the past, when newspapers’ fortunes moved at a more sedate pace, the only time risks were taken with editor appointments was when a paper was in trouble (hence my own appointment as editor of the Auckland Star when I was about the same age as Ryan Evans).
      The interesting thing was, because the asset had been more or less written off by the owner, NZ News Limited, I could experiment with all kinds of innovations, many of them risky. We had a ball for two years. The problem was, once the paper stabilised (temporarily), the cone of conservatism re-descended and I was required to pull my head in.
      The difference for Ryan is that all newspapers are now at risk, and the amount of global planning going in to save them quite severely proscribes what he can do. He also faces a severely reduced staff – fewer reporters and no subs.
      I was told the whole strategy revolves around getting things up online first, but frankly that’s not going to be enough. The Daily News section of Stuff might well carry news sooner and it can be updated easily, but as an overall diet it pales in comparison with the print version. It’s a tricky balance between giving the discourse away free while retaining enough content to justify people’s spend on the physical paper.
      If this plays out logically, the paper will disappear as a daily and either become a community paper a few days a week or vanish totally and just appear online, except for the profitable Saturday edition.
      Whatever happens, however, there is always going to be a need for good journalism, both for news and for the big read stuff that I’m indulging in for Live magazine. Just where it will appear remains anyone’s guess.


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