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Interim Report of the RDRR Working Party

Reynold Macpherson, 23 Feb 2023


The Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers (RDRR) organised and chaired a Public Meeting held Thursday 26 January 2023 at the Ngongotahā Hall. The meeting was to give residents and ratepayers a voice about the housing development being planned for the 15.9ha (39.29 acre) site at 31 Ngongotahā Road. Over 400 attended.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) released a preliminary description of the project that coincided with the beginning of this first public meeting.[1] It is acknowledged that MHUD has been heavily engaged since in responding to the housing crisis caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

RDRR’s Working Party on 31 Ngongotahā Road met 1 February to document the verbal assurances given to the Public Meeting, enable public feedback on draft development proposals and monitor implementation.

MHUD’s DCE Place Ben Dalton invited RDRR Chairman Reynold Macpherson to chair a Second Public Meeting on 15 March. The purpose of this meeting is to provide interactive public consultations, specifically by hearing planning updates by Ben Dalton, by the developer, Marcus Jacobson of Watchman Residential, and by the contracted engineer, James Dufty, and to enable follow up questions from the Ngongotahā community and other stakeholders.

The RDRR Working Party met again on 22 February to synthesize questions to assist with the preparation of presentations on 15 March. This interim report summarises the consultations to date and submits questions to the MHUD, it’s developer and engineer and to the Rotorua District Council.


The assurances given by key speakers at the Public Meeting have been published by Stuff[2] [3] [4] with key assurances now identified.

MHUD DCE Place Ben Dalton emphasised that they were “only into week seven of the planning stages and there was a lot of work yet to do. First stage was for 196 single and two-storey homes. Hydraulic modelling had been completed as well as geotechnical, quantity surveying and infrastructure investigations. There will be no effect on downstream properties.”

Developer Marcus Jacobson reported that “the homes would be high-density, a mix of single and two-storey, with car parks. Homes would be 130sq m to 150sq m and estimated that they would be for about 1000 people in total. There would be strong interest from buyers and sales were usually done using a ballot system. We want to make sure everyone in Rotorua gets that opportunity first [to buy the homes]. This is not a Kāinga Ora development. We will have some social housing but … think of it as affordable housing.”

At another point in the meeting Jacobson reported that “18-20% would be social housing, about 20% affordable housing with a cap of $475K for Kiwibulid houses to be allocated by ballot. The development would comprise single, duplex and terraced housing.”

Contracted engineer James Dufty noted that “Hydraulic modelling has been completed as well as geotechnical, quantity surveying and infrastructure investigations. The entire area wasn’t a flood plain and homes would not be built on the flood plain itself. It is a high-quality development, and the Resource Management Act process would show there was no effect on downstream properties. Developments on such swamp lands are not unusual. Sites always have constraints. This site is no different, but it’s done all over Aotearoa and in multiple countries.”

Rotorua’s Lakes Council DCE District Development Jean-Paul Gaston said that Council would await the proposals and apply the normal criteria prior to resource consenting.


RDRR’s Working Party on 31 Ngongotahā Road met again on 22 February to refine questions to assist with the preparation of presentations on 15 March.

It offered this service pending the formation/ revitalisation of a Ngongotahā Village Development Committee.


RRDR suggests seven generic questions be addressed:

  1. How is the scale of MHUD’s Ngongotahā project justified when Stats NZ has estimated that Rotorua’s resident population grew by 8,400 between 2013 and 2022, that is 840 pa, and require about 210 homes (assuming an average of four persons per household), prior to a more recent downturn in population?
  2. What does MHUD project will be the impact of an additional 1,000 people on the fundamental character of the Ngongotahā Village?
  3. If there were the equivalent of a Cyclone Gabrielle in the Waiteti and Ngongotahā valleys, and some of the proposed new homes had to be yellow or red stickered, who would ‘pick up the tab’?
  4. To what extent has Cyclone Gabrielle triggered a policy review of MHUD’s housing strategy and revised plans for 31 Ngongotahā Road?
  5. What other plans does MHUD have for housing in Ngongotahā?
  6. What agreements have MHUD developed with Rotorua Lakes Council regarding the provision of new housing in Ngongotahā? 
  7. While recognising the need to ‘fast track’ the provision of housing, how will MHUD consult with the Ngongotahā community in the future over their housing plans for Ngongotahā?

Ngati Ngararanui, mana whenua, have generic concerns about the potential environmental and cultural impacts of the proposed housing estate. They were assured that the MHUD, the Developer and the Engineer will “walk the whenua” with mana whenua. These concerns about potential impacts are shared by others in the RDRR Working Party and in the Ngongotahā community. With respect, RDRR suggests that residents and ratepayers be invited to “walk the whenua with mana whenua.”

The third generic concern of mana whenua and other local residents and ratepayers is how MHUD will ensure that sister ministries and Council will plan, share and deliver appropriate services in a timely manner to the proposed housing community of about 1,000 people.

More specifically, how will MHUD, sister ministries and Council anticipate educational needs from pre-school to tertiary levels, medical and health services, social services, green spaces and recreational areas, roading projects to ease congestion, public transport options and the co-management of the Waiteti Stream?


RDRR’s Working Party suggest attention to five questions:

  1. How will the presence of wāhitapu and the tapu Waiteti Awa be respected in the layout of the site?
  2. How is the proposed scale and profile of housing provisions justified?
  3. How will parking and recreational needs be accommodated at the site?
  4. How will the proposed site be connected to Ngongotahā Village?
  5. How can the proposed public “drop-in” session, to clarify draft plans by MHUD, sister ministries and Council, provide authentic public consultations – where there is a real possibility of critical feedback resulting in significant and negotiated change?

RDRR proposes that the 15 March public consultation meeting be followed by a public “drop-in” session, when comprehensive plans have been refined, where residents and ratepayers can seek detail and give voice to any residual concerns.


Four questions are suggested to elicit detailed responses:

  1. What is the quantified level of flooding risk and potential impact at the site?
  2. What is the quantified level of flood hazard to downstream properties and potential impact?
  3. What flood mitigation has been planned at the site and downstream?
  4. What are the findings and implications of the geo-tech evaluations of the site?


Four questions are proposed:

  1. What components of the draft plans will be the responsibility of Council to deliver?
  2. What are the costs of these components?
  3. What development contributions will be paid to Council by MHUD?
  4. Will potentially affected parties be consulted through a plan change process as suggested by the Minister in 2018?


These notes are intended to assist with preparation for the 15 March public meeting at the Ngongotahā Hall, 5.30-7.30 pm. They will be provided to MHUD DCE Place Ben Dalton, for distribution to developer Marcus Jacobson, engineer James Dufty and RLC’s DCE Jean-Paul Gaston.

To cater to the public interest, and to encourage attendance to the Second Public Meeting on 15 March, these notes will also be shared with local MPs, Todd McClay, Tamati Coffey and Rawiri Waiteti, with elected members and senior officials of the Rotorua District Council, with local reporters Benn Bathgate and Kelly Mahika, with RDRR members, associates and friends, and with RDRR’s sister organisations.

Contact: Reynold Macpherson 07 346 8553 021 725 708