Roller hockey club forced to close over council decision

  • 24/03/2013

The country's biggest roller hockey club is facing closure, putting the future of the sport in New Zealand in jeopardy. Papatoetoe Roller Hockey Club has become a casualty of the Auckland Council's plan to squeeze an extra million residents into the city by 2030.

When Auckland mayor Len Brown opened the Trans-Tasman Roller Hockey Cup in Auckland in 2010, those who were there say he gave this assurance.

"He said that as far as he was standing as mayor, he would make sure that we weren't going anywhere and we would be in this community for a long time," says club member Steve Tonkin.

But in two months, the building housing what is described as New Zealand's most successful roller hockey club will be reduced to rubble.

There are 15 clubs in New Zealand, but it is the main one, and the club's vice president says its demise will have a domino effect.

"I believe the sport will die, at a national level as well as an Auckland level," says Rob Vazey.

The council says it needs the land to build a road for a new housing development to help ease Auckland's housing shortage.

Mr Brown declined to be interviewed. But one of his staff tells 3 News it's virtually impossible the mayor said the building would stay. The land has been earmarked for redevelopment for almost 10 years.

Otara-Papatoetoe local board chairman John McCracken says the club has known it was earmarked for that long too.

"They were put on short-term leases and then for the last three years they've been on a month-by-month lease," says Mr McCracken.

And the Auckland Council has sent the club a letter, saying the shortened lease means it's now not obliged to help provide new premises for the club, leaving the club with a bRollig problem.

"I'd say it's like finding a needle in a haystack," says Mr Vazey. "We won't be able to find a building. We won't be able to afford to build. The building basically has to be pillar-less for 30 by 40 metres."

"I don't have a problem with them knocking the building down, but if they want to do that then they should find somewhere else for us," says Mr Tonkin.

He wants it so people like Mr Tonkin's son, Dean, can reach their full potential in the sport.

"Basically there's no more hockey for us because it's too far to go to go to another rink," says Dean Tonkin.

Papatoetoe Roller Hockey Club reckons the only mistake it ever made was believing a politician during an election campaign.

3 News

source: newshub archive