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Opportunity for a new Marine Research and Educational Facility
20 December 2017
Opportunity for a new Marine Research and Educational Facility
Tauranga City Council agreed today in principle to a long-term lease of the southern, grassed area at Northern Sulphur Point, to enable the University of Waikato to establish a purpose-built Marine Research and Educational Facility.  This is subject to public consultation outcomes as well as further discussion regarding the potential long-term lease with the University.
At the beginning of 2017 the University approached Council with the wish to work collaboratively towards establishing an internationally sought after multidisciplinary research and educational facility close to the city centre at Sulphur Point.  Council investigated two areas as potential locations for the new facility with the southern, grassed area of Northern Sulphur Point being determined as the most feasible site for this significant economic development opportunity.
Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout emphasises the importance of a strong partnership with the University of Waikato and the environmental, cultural and social value the facility would bring to Tauranga.  
“A facility in the marine sector will bring benefits to the city in many ways. It would provide opportunities to partner with local and regional bodies and organisations to bring into effect a development that has wider economic, social, and environmental benefits to the city,” Mr Clout said.
“At the same time, it would help maintain and enhance our precious coastal environment.
“By providing tertiary education opportunities in marine science and engineering, unique to New Zealand and sought after internationally, it is going to be a distinctive addition to what our city has on offer. 
“It will also enable our community to engage closely with the coastal and marine environment that makes up the fabric of our region.”
Professor Alister Jones, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor University of Waikato, is delighted at the work Council have undertaken to consider a potential home for establishing a world-class Marine Research and Education Facility that would build upon the work of the existing Coastal Marine Field Station.
“The vision is to create an interdisciplinary research and teaching facility hosting multi-disciplinary science, marine, engineering, environmental and social impact, and technological support. The proposed research centre would be distinctive to New Zealand and create the capacity to attract and host national and international collaborations and research programmes which provide opportunities and solutions to key issues for the Bay of Plenty coastal and marine environments.”
Due to the success of the University’s Coastal Marine Field Station and increased research demands, there is a need for enhanced facilities and space to address regional issues. The proposed centre would include specialist marine laboratories, engineering design workshops and a large public engagement space to showcase the Bay of Plenty marine environment to the public.  It would also link in with the new Tauranga CBD campus the University is building on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership and offer highly sought after tertiary educational courses that would be unique to New Zealand.
“The Coastal Marine Field Station has proven its value to the region and a Marine Research and Education Facility would add further value to Tauranga’s desire to be internationally competitive with distinctiveness in marine research, biotech and engineering, and tertiary education. 
“In addition, the centre would also help keep more young people in the area, to enable them to study and research in areas directly related to regional need and competitiveness through courses unique to New Zealand,” Professor Jones said.
Public consultation will take place early 2018 and Council will explore with the University of Waikato the terms and conditions for a potential long-term lease of the land.