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Decisions over funding of controversial stadium
05 December 2006

The Northland Events Centre is likely to ask for government funding, like Auckland's Eden Park.

The rugby stadium and conference centre planned for Okara Park will be built and run by a trust.

The Deed of Trust is yet to be finalised between the Whangarei District Council, Northland Regional Council and Northland Rugby Union.

But Northland Rugby Union chairman Mark Farnsworth says he believes the trust will apply for funding from the government.

"When the trust is in place, the trust will look at what is required. I'm quite sure they will traverse all the funding options," he says.

The Government is currently considering how much money it will commit to an upgrade of Eden Park in Auckland in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Backers of the Whangarei events centre hope the venue can be built in time to stage some of the world cup games as well.

District council spokeswoman Ann Midson says lawyers are still talking over the Deed of Trust for the Whangarei events centre. There are still some issues the Northland Rugby Union wants to work through, she says.

Councillors will have a chance to consider all the issues at their full council meeting tomorrow.

The agenda item will be open to the public, says Ms Midson.

The council will also receive a petition of 5000 signatures from Respect Northland, asking for a binding referendum to establish support for ratepayer funding of the proposed events centre.

Respect Northland chairman Clyde Korach says the petition will be presented to the district council tomorrow and the regional council next week.

He hopes both councils will take note of it.

Councillor Frank Newman has put a notice of motion to the Whangarei District Council to support the petitioners' request.

Meanwhile, resident Don Hedges continues with his appeal of the resource consent granted for the Northland Events Centre.

Mr Hedges has concerns about noise levels, the retail space and other planning issues.

He says a mediation hearing is being held on December 20 but he believes the issue is likely to go to the Environment Court.

He is considering setting up an incorporated society to raise funds for lawyers' fees.