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Chloe Wright, centre, with her husband Wayne and daughter Belinda in Paeroa earlier this year. File photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Former racecourse development’s ‘impact on modern Paeroa’

It was an “emotional” morning at the former Paeroa Racecourse on Monday.
Before dawn broke, local iwi, Hauraki District Council representatives, and developers Wayne and Chloe Wright were among those who blessed the “sacred site”, pulling off a piece of the old grandstand to mark the start of the Paeroa Hills development.
The development will be constructed in nine stages. The proposed stage one includes installing a roundabout off State Highway 26 and replacing the grandstand with an apartment building.
Other stages of the development could potentially see a motel and commercial site erected, a chapel and multiple green spaces established, and roughly 230 houses built.

It will have a “huge impact on modern Paeroa”, former Hauraki Mayor Basil Morrison said. The racecourse has sat largely vacant since the last horse bolted in 2012, but since the chains of the gates were cut in November, 2020, the public has since utilised the space, with events held, markets taking place, and workshops in use.
Some of the existing buildings – such as the members stand and function room signposted ‘The Argonaut Lounge’ – will remain.
Hauraki Mayor Toby Adams told Wayne and Chloe Wright, who attended the blessing alongside their daughter, Belinda, that the development will have “an amazing impact on Paeroa and the Hauraki”.
“You’re going to leave your DNA here forever,” he said. “Paeroa and Hauraki have been through some tough times over the years, but we’re coming through it and we are going to see a new, modern Paeroa with a whole new demographic of people, and we welcome them here.”
Representatives from Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Tamaterā, and Ngāti Tara Tokanui said karakia and sang waiata as the sod was turned and a piece of the grandstand was dismantled before sunrise on Monday.
They said the former racecourse was a “special place” for all of the Paeroa community.
Chloe Wright also told The Profile that blessings meant “a great deal” to her family.
“It’s a time to talk more with iwi about how we can work together and carry on creating history and creating a place that we hope is unlike any other.”
The Wright family, from Tauranga, is the shareholder of WFT Finance & Investment Company and is also behind The Wright Family Foundation, which established the early learning childcare organisation, Best Start.
“We saw this as an opportunity to make a positive difference,” Wayne Wright said.
“We think it’ll probably take us a good five years from now, and we hope to start moving dirt later this year.”