Where but in Napier would public policy be put in the hands (?) of a dolphin?!

But that’s the way it is … until Kelly’s heart gives out mid-trick, the doors of Marineland stay open. Sound crass? What’s not crass about the enlightened plan to squeeze every last ticket sale possible out of Marineland’s fading star?

Eeeeveeennntuuuallly, Napier will get on with the task of finding a new public use of the facility and site. Not soon enough for BayBuzz.

Napier Councillor Maxine Boag has struggled with her position on the matter, but argues for a robust public discussion of next steps for Marineland. Here she is …

Why I voted against closing Marineland

I would like to explain why I joined Cr Harry Lawson in voting against Napier City Council’s resolution to close Marineland when Kelly dies.

To my mind, the end of Marineland, as we know it now, is sad, but inevitable and appropriate. Napier City Council was not prepared to provide funding to upgrade and fully maintain the facility any longer, and the government’s decision to uphold their policy preventing the acquisition of new dolphins put the last nail into Marineland’s coffin. I have the same mixed feelings that many others have expressed: I signed the petition in the emotional time after Shona died, but I would not do that today, as I’m not in favour of keeping large animals in captivity unless it is for hospitalization or breeding. However, I fully respect the Friends of Marineland in their staunch support for the facility and the staff for the wonderful job they do to care for the animals.

At issue for me is not so much what happens to Marineland without dolphins; the issue is rather who decides its fate. I believe full community consultation should occur before the facility is closed down – regardless of when Kelly dies – to allow the people of Napier to tell Council what they think should be Marineland’s future. My attempts to amend Council’s resolution at the Wednesday meeting to this effect were not accepted by the chair; nor was my suggestion to debate each clause separately.

However, the resolution was made more palatable to me when a clause stating that “redevelopment options continue to be done in consultation with the community” was added by Cr Tony Jeffery. Still, it did not fully address my main concern: that the people of Napier should be widely consulted – perhaps using a process similar to that used in Select Committee hearings – before Marineland’s doors are closed.

Marineland belongs to all of Napier, not just the City Council, so I would like the facts and figures about the facility placed in front of the people of Napier and everyone asked to share their ideas and proposals. Should Marineland be bulldozed or redeveloped? What could the facility be best used for? There will be many of you with creative suggestions that we Councillors have never thought of.

The future of Marineland without any dolphins deserves to be widely discussed and debated in the community before Council makes that decision. Our job is to serve and represent the people of Napier, and I for one am keen for a process to be put in place so we can hear your ideas before we take the next step on your behalf.

Maxine Boag
Napier City Councillor, Nelson Park Ward

Maxine, except for the “animals exist to do tricks for people” crowd, I’m not sure anybody disagrees with you!


Join the Conversation


  1. They must retain Marineland in some form.

    Marine hospital & education center would be the ideal concept.

    I wonder though, would there have been this problem had numerous previous councils updated the facilities regularly?

    What you see today, give or take a bit of land area, hasn't changed since it opened, sadly.

    Marineland has been the great mainstay of family holiday attractions for generations in Napier.

    True, the animals-doing-tricks thing has done it's dash. But the facility and getting that close to seals, penguins, etc is is unique experience that our city offers.

    All the wineries and bountiful alcohol-based events that Napier has become obsessed with (It's not what we're drinking, It's how we're drinking, people!) are not the sort of things I would bring a young family to visit Napier for.

    We need to keep the parade busy with attractive things for visitors to do. Without Marineland, the southern end of the Parade is just a playground, lots of grass and the Rotary walkway until you get to the aquarium over 1km away.

    When interest in Art Deco dies out, as it is certain to do eventually, what will attract people to our city then? A waterfront footpath?

    I think not.

  2. Local Bodies Have No Place in Commerce

    The Marineland is first and foremost a business a massive loss making business which has been a cost Napier’s 23,000 rate payers for 30+ unrelenting years. It is a cost to the city in bad reputation from environmentalist all over the world, cost to the city in bureaucratic administration and years of apologising to concerned authorities. It has been a cost through continual lobbing a lost cause and a costs in complying with government regulations. There are other ‘hidden’ costs for a Local Body businesses and there has never been any attempt by any Council to address these issues. Napier’s Marineland has been little more than civic vanity and a pretence at being a rival in the world oceanariums business. The main attraction is and always was the cheap entrance fee, the dolphins are the second main attraction. Make the entrance fee a competitive industry price and a reflection of value and all trade would die by lunch time. Marine land would have been out of business the day after a fair deal entrance fee was applied. Napier rate payers have been subsidising cheap holidays for rich Germans too long.

    Ratepayers have had little or no benefit from ‘the tourist boom’ – which incidentally is in free fall at the moment with little hope of recovery. Accommodation owners and transport providers have been the main winners of Councils commitment to underwriting this obsolete circus/zoo. The last nail in the coffin of this business was hammered home years ago when the dolphins were dying so fast they had to bury them in the back garden. I don’t believe anyone ever came to Napier (or Hawkes Bay) 'to see the dolphins’ no they visited the Marineland because it was cheap. Napier should have cut the losses and closed it down when environmental awareness emerged in the 1980’s. Now the opportunity is before us and the closing day is near, we don’t want another negatively geared business as replacement.

  3. As a former Napier City councillor. I was Deputy Chair of Council's Trading Committee. For what reason Now closed down! I totally and whole heartedly agree with Brian Duggan. Marineland has been propped with ratepayers money ever since it began. It has never made one red cent of profit. What is has provided is an ego trip for people who have absoluteky no scientific indepth knowledge of dolphins. No one doubts their very good intentions and that Marineland has over the years provided some excellent care of injured penguins and sea-birds. And I believe something along the lines of a clinic should still continue in that area or near by? And that it should fully funded by DOC through Government. Not in anyway shape or form paid paid for by the ever flogged hard pressed Napier iratepayer!

    I was absolutely gob smacked by Cr Boag's flp flop.on the issue. More especially when the area she claims to represent the people of Nelson Park Ward, have far more deserving causes to be attended to and when most of the residents are amongst some of the most financially disadavantaged in Napier.

    I also totally dissagree with her that there needs to be yet more public consultation on the matter-to my mind Council have consulted to their blue in the face. As Cr Lawson full well knew, and as public records show, he actually agreed with it's closure . That was untill Mayoral aspirant Cliff Church started his lost crusade for the mayoral chain and the well intentioned albeit somewhat missinformed masses signed a public petition. Then I believe Cr Lawson seized the opportunity to turn it into an election footbal for his own ends. If Cr Boag is attempting the same or similiar. May I suggest she takes the time to reflect on the" fact" that Cr Lawson only just scraped back in after his 23 years of being a councillor. Getting someone to sign a public petition is the easiest thing in the world -getting them to put their hand in pocket and actually give you their money is a totally different matter all together. Things have for well changed since Coronations Streets Elsie Tanner visited Marineland. That was before we had colour TV and well before easily led Kiwis started spelling in the American way!

    That said, as the local newspaper quite correctly (for once) reported : there is No doubt who is running the Napier City Council, it's CEO Neil Taylor. Elected members are simply led by the nose rarely ask questions. As Council Agenda's clearly show- all the reccomendations for change come from the Mayor or paid officials. Elected members simply give them their rubber stamp! Do elected members know how much the War Memorial & Conferrence Cetre was costing $1700 a day! Do any elected member know or care what it's costing ratepayers today ? And love him or hate him, former Ct John Harrison does his homework- says it like it is. When he stated the Aquarium was costing -losing $12,000 per week and needed over a million spent on deffered maintainance no questions were asked by elected members -all appeared like stunned mullets!

    With such a multi 30 -40 million $ growing Public Debt escalating, largely unsustaianable rates increases along with an aging population, forecast unemployment- harder times, There are in my book far more immediate pressing COMMUNITY NEEDS for Napier. In that I seriously maintain all the well insulated

    Chardanay sipping at the ratepayers expence Napier City Council elected members NEED to wake up keep and keep to its kniting of core business of looking after everyones best interests. Leave the risky commercial ventures to the public sector -let them risk their own money. Don't gamble with ratepayers money. The sooner Council elected members get real and recognise-the rate payers purse is Not a bottomless pit the better. Why should Kennedy Park complex, ratepayers be continually milked to help pay subsidise all Council's failed tourist business ventures ? If the Hotels / motels, tourisim industry wants these mega dollar costing so called visitor attractions let them pay. User pays -when I was in the industry I suggested Council intoduce a bed tax to help fund these operations.

    I can remember back over 40 years ago when Council had a very small open metal water tank on Marine Parade with a solitary beautiful dolphin in it swimming aimlesslly round and round.

    I was sea going at the time, my first visit to Napier. After seeing dolphins free in the wild -I can still remember how sad (still does'

    it made me feel for that lone lone dolphin.

    It was absolute cruelty in the extreme! With virtual reality High Defination DVD's I would like to think we have ALL come a long way since then? Surely now is the overdue time to let Marineland as we know it Rest in Peace.

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