By Pattrick Smellie
The University of Auckland has taken a major step towards quitting its unsuccessful experiment to relocate much of its medical school and innovation activity to its Tamaki campus, selling the site to a company controlled by property developer Tim Edney.
Tamaki Village Ltd will buy the remaining 11.9 hectare site for an undisclosed sum and lease back its core buildings and car parks for up to three and a half years while the activity at Tamaki is transferred to the university's three central city campuses in Grafton and Newmarket.
During the vice-chancellorship of John Hood in the early 2000s, the Tamaki site was seen as the logical place to expand the university, and a state-of-the-art building to house the new School of Population Health was opened on the site in 2004.
However, the remote location was never popular with teaching staff or students and when the university bought a disused brewery site in Newmarket, near the Grafton medical school campus, plans were made to shift activities back to a more central location.
Post-graduate degrees were increasingly conjoint, requiring access to more than one faculty, and research was increasingly multi-disciplinary, vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon told BusinessDesk.
"Having faculties remote from the main university campus, students really struggled to be engaged."
The university had owned the site, which also included the Colin Maiden Park grounds, already sold to Auckland city, since 1944, he said.
"There have been a lot of attempts to make it work."
Proceeds of the sale will go towards the refurbishment and updating of other facilities.
Edney is listed as a 74 percent shareholding of Tamaki Village Limited, which was registered at the Companies Office on February 29, with the remaining 26 percent held by Shundi Group Investment, whose shareholders are listed as Auckland-based Huojun Shao and Lijuan Zhu.