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Tauranga Mini Golf and Jeeps to stay at Memorial Park, says owner

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Mike Head “couldn’t be happier”.

The owner of Tauranga Mini Golf and Jeeps says the course, which was threatened by a council redevelopment, will be able to stay in Memorial Park – and even expand.

This year the Bay of Plenty Times revealed serious seismic issues meant the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre was classified as a “high-risk” building needing significant remedial work. This tied in with plans to redevelop the park.

Head was told his lease would not be renewed but he could continue on a month-by-month basis after it ended while the future of his business, on council land, was uncertain.

Last week, Tauranga City Council commissioners decided on a $128 million upgrade of Memorial Park and its facilities, including a new aquatic centre featuring three hydroslides.

Head said the decision meant the mini golf course would stay where it is.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Head said he understood that he would be able to retain the mini golf kiosk where it was and expand the course north.

“Hopefully, we’ll start digging in August next year and the bulldozers come in in 2025.”

The council also indicated it would help Head with fencing as part of the renovations, he said.

Head said he felt fortunate to have had a positive experience in dealing with the council.

“They’ve been bloody good to deal with … I’m very happy,” he said.

“We’ve all got our opinions on Cameron Rd and whether that [upgrade project] should have gone ahead or not but I can tell you, my experience of dealing with them couldn’t have gone smoother.”

He said he believed community support for the business contributed to the outcome.

An architect's render of the Memorial Park upgrades. The mini golf course is indicated by the light green square in the centre. Image /  Tauranga City Council
An architect’s render of the Memorial Park upgrades. The mini golf course is indicated by the light green square in the centre. Image / Tauranga City Council

When Head first learned of uncertainty regarding the future of the mini golf course, he rallied support from the Tauranga public to help illustrate how much it was wanted.

Head created a website to collect submissions on the course and its potential relocation elsewhere. Within two weeks, Head received 600 submissions of support and three against.

“I think they must’ve influenced [the council] to a degree. If anyone in council had any doubt, that put paid to it. It was an overwhelming response.”

The mini golf course was built in 1983 by members of the Tauranga Rotary Club for the community and was originally operated to raise funds for charity. In 2008, the popular attraction changed hands following the expiry of the original lease agreement between the club and the council.

Head took over five years ago and in that time has helped schools, friends and not-for-profit groups with fundraising, he said.

In a previous article, Head said he saw himself as a “caretaker” of a community facility which would be his legacy to the city.

Tauranga City Council has been approached for comment about the future of the mini golf course.

Kiri Gillespie is an assistant news director and a senior journalist for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post, specialising in local politics and city issues. She was a finalist for the Voyager Media Awards Regional Journalist of the Year in 2021.

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