Could Taranaki Host the Commonwealth Games?
Will Johnston
Sports News Taranaki

Taranaki’s business and sporting leaders believe the region’s sports facilities could host events during the Commonwealth Games, but investment is needed by the government to get them up to a standard.

New Zealand has taken a tentative step to bid for hosting rights during the 2034 instalment, with competitions to potentially take place across multiple cities and regions. It moves away from the traditional format where one city hosts the entire Games.

Taranaki has hosted many national and international events over the years at facilities like Yarrow Stadium, TSB Stadium, Port Taranaki and Stratford’s hockey turf putting the region in a good position to host events.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom agrees but said more is required to get the venues up to standard.

“We’ve got experience hosting big cultural and sporting events in the district, we have passionate hospitality and accommodation providers who would relish the opportunity along with the substantive economic benefits,” he said.

“They [facilities] would require investment to meet Games requirements, and this would need to be fully funded by central government, which receives the largest portion of income from international visitors,” he said.

Holdom has no doubt that if the region got the chance to host events, it would be a success and the province would work together to make it an amazing experience.

Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chief executive Arun Chaudhari said the region could deliver “the goods” in the time frame.

“Infrastructure would get a huge boost. Taranaki’s hospo, accommodation and retail would welcome the prospect.”

Sport Taranaki chief executive Michael Carr said it’s early days, but the prospect is exciting.

“It will depend on the scope, one of the challenges is how far they will go out of the main centres, at this point we don’t know,” he said. “But there are a number of venues used in national competitions now that we would be in a reasonably strong position to host.”

He said if there are improvements to venues, they will need to be available for the community to use post the Games.

The region’s lawn bowls facilities earned top praise from Bowls New Zealand when Taranaki will host the Dominion fours and mixed pairs next year, making it an ideal location for the sport. 

“That’s a big tick in Bowls New Zealand’s book,” said Bowls Taranaki chairman Robert Wolfe.

He said not only could the facilities cope with the influx of players, but the conditions would also suit.

“With the climate being conducive to playing the game and the type of greens that have been manufactured here over the years, they’ve certainly stood the test of time.”

Taranaki is used to hosting large bowls events. Earlier this year, 182 teams and 200 extra players compared to last season were involved in the annual Taranaki Open. Some even came from Australia. “If the organisation, playing facilities and greens weren’t up to standard, they wouldn’t come here,” Wolfe said.