❀ Raj Kumar

Councillor Election201320162019
Placing7th of 102nd of 10
Councillor Election Results – 2013 – 2019

On Westbrook Sports Precinct:

  • 28 June 2021 – Council Committee – voted against the Trumper motion saying the Golf Club’s lease should be extended and the Westbrook Sports Precinct should be built elsewhere, such as the unused Velodrome. ❀❀❀
  • 18 May 2021 – SP&F Committee – voted against Shirley Trumper’s motion: That the discussion on the future of the Springfield Golf Course be deferred until such time as a full assessment is conducted by Council on a future sports facility that is fit for purpose to meet the future needs of the Rotorua community to go out for full consultation at the appropriate time. ❀
  • 19 Apr 2021 – Attended the Springfield Community Conversation and expressed his support for saving Springfield. ❀

Council Meeting of 28 June 2021

Before he could speak, Cr Kumar was challenged by Cr Donaldson who ask him to consider whether he has to declare an interest with respect to debating this matter at all.

The audience reacted, obviously unimpressed by Donaldson’s interjection.

Undeterred Donaldson continued saying that Cr Kumar lived adjacent to the golf course [as if that were grounds to declare a conflict of interest]. Kumar confirmed that he lived on the golf course.

Kumar responded, gesturing the crowd, who reacted showing their displeasure with Donaldson’s angle.

However the Mayor ruled it was a legitimate question to be asked.

Donaldson further added that in a public meeting Kumar had made statements which indicated a predetermined bias in this matter that were reported in the media.

The Mayor addressed the public saying “we are always respectful of hearing wide views and that was a perfectly legitimate question to ask and must be asked at this committee meeting of Council. She asked Kumar to respond to the question: Do you have a conflict of interest?”

Kumar responded: First of all, as a Councillor at large, I represent everyone in Rotorua.

The Mayor asked Kumar for a simple yes or no.

Kumar responded. “I don’t”, which was met with applause from the crowd.

[Kumar has no conflict of interest that is any different than that of his neighbour. He doesn’t have a financial vested interest in the saving of Springfield any different than his neighbour. In fact, as the owner of the Springfield Superette he stands to benefit financially from the new housing development proposed nearby and from the sports people who might stop at his shop and purchase sports drinks etc.,en route to or from the proposed Westbrook Sports Precinct.]

With that out of the way Kumar continued:

Thank you people of Springfields, supporters and friends who have turned up today. Thank you Robert Lee for organising your group to come over.

As we heard earlier RLC is going to spend $29 million in the road to recover in an economic plan. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if part of that money was used to promote Rotorua as a golfing, sporting Mecca. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Springfield Golf Course, Arikikapakapa Golf Course & Lake View was given some money, a slice of that money, to promote and further Rotorua as a spot to come over. Has there been an economic report done regarding how much value golf has done to or for Rotorua?

The people of Springfield and their supporters and the ratepayers around there are not saying not to build Westbrook Sports Precinct. In fact they are saying, yes do it. Just don’t do it on the golf club. Please don’t destroy our golf club is all they are asking. They want the leased extended. They want the Sporting Precinct of Westbrook to go ahead. It could go on the unused Velodrome. It could be somewhere else. Let’s find some land. Let’s all get together. Let’s find some viable land that would not affect the residents, the parking, the noise polution, the lights and the cost factor of the future. Let’s restore some pride. Let’s start with manaakitanga, right here at home. Let’s not worry about providing teas, coffees. Lets just provide some sensible responsibility. Let’s just give our lease to the people of Springfield Golf Club who have come here today and who have been crying out loud for the lease. That’s all we ask. We are not opposing Westbrook Sports Precinct, is what they say.

The Mayor responded that the lease was not for discussion today. That will be for a future committee of Council. She continued, claiming that Trumper’s amendment:

does exactly what I think our community is asking for – including the passion of the golfers of Springfield and those that live around the Springfield Golf Course. It’s actually asking for a full assessment to be conducted by Council and I believe that that ought to be time-framed. That’s the only amendment that I would put in supporting this…

Because of the community interest, this is something that ought to be done in year one of the Long Term Plan or in the first three years. We’ve got six years ahead. Where do you get another business come to ask to us to say we need our lease to be given for 30 years – it’s usually an extension of 10. And we have had other commercial providers come to us asking for consideration of lease extensions that we’ve done in β€œconfidential”, because of the commercial nature.

If this is a commercial proposition, and I quite like we’re your coming from Cr Kumar, about the value of golf. Actually, Ariki did put a detailed business case to the Rotorua Economic Development Unit. They didn’t get over the line at the time because we had other priorities. I like the idea of doing an economic analysis of the value of golf. I see all the golfers here today with passion, which is a great thing, for health and well-being. All we are discussing today, and this was the recommendation that we all approved of at our committee of Council and clearly that hasn’t been imparted back. We’re not discussing the lease. We’re saying that we need to do a full assessment on the future needs of a sports facility that is fit for purpose to meet the future needs of the Rotorua community. And then to take that assessment out for consultation. It’s all we asked for. So in effect this isn’t even a Long Term Plan discussion. But the passion has been aroused and that doesn’t matter. Arousing the passion certainly shows us the level of community concern.

I too was at that meeting and Robert, it was conducted with respect and dignity . I felt I was incredibly compromised when a fellow Councilor got up and said that those at the public meeting had been dealt a whole lot of propaganda and lies. That was wrong. And I couldn’t rebut it and I wouldn’t rebut it. What does it look like when Councilors go to war at a public meeting over a really high interest in a community. And so we sat there and just listened which was the purpose of them coming here today.

So I’m very satisfied and I think it satisfies your concern Cr Maxwell that we undertake that full assessment first and then take that assessment out for full consultation to the wider community. That’s what I saw. That’s what I felt by all other sporting codes. So what a lot of people with passion for golf don’t realise is I have soccer Mum’s & Dad’s, and I’ve been one of those, we can’t stand the parks we have to stand on every Saturday. We like the fact that there is going to be the consideration of a Sporting complex. So that discussion needs to go out to the wider community. So I’m in support of the motion today that we defer the discussion of the Springfield Golf Course. I want to thank you all for coming in numbers to show – we clearly know what you believe. That’s ok. That’s fine. That’s how other issues like Tarawera happened over time because they too showed their support.

But I’m in full support of this motion as amended at the Committee in which we took active part in discussion – those that were there.