Old Tomahawk School site could become recreation hub

Tomahawk youngsters (from left) Nuku Ritchie, 15, Rupert Lublow-Catty, 14, Alexander Hattrell, 15...
Tomahawk youngsters (from left) Nuku Ritchie, 15, Rupert Lublow-Catty, 14, Alexander Hattrell, 15, Felix Culling, 15, and Indio Wilson, 11, are keen for the old Tomahawk School site in Dunedin to become a recreation centre. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A former primary school in a growing seaside community in Dunedin could become a recreation centre if momentum builds behind the idea.

Possibilities at the old Tomahawk School site include a half basketball court, junior football pitch, a playground, pump track and native planting.

A proposal has yet to take shape but use of the land looks likely to be an issue when the Dunedin City Council works on its 2025-34 long-term plan.

Resident in the area Sally Dicey said the school site used to be a hub for the community.

"It would be great to see it put to good use," she said.

Ms Dicey said there had been an influx of children and residential development was continuing.

Completion of the Ocean Heights subdivision would bring 52 more homes to Ocean Grove and a development in Tomahawk Rd near Andersons Bay Cemetery would add 11.

Tomahawk School closed in 2010 and the Dunedin City Council bought the site from Ngāi Tahu in 2012.

School buildings deteriorated and were demolished in 2019.

Ideas have been considered over the years but none progressed.

A council committee decided in 2016 the site was unsuitable for subdivision and resale, and it was to be managed as a coastal dune reserve until its future was decided.

Covid-19 ended up getting in the way of progress, but a push to get something going resumed last year.

A community survey was carried out late last year and strong support was evident among the 85 responses for a recreation hub.

An online petition started by Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope in April this year to "demand action from our council" and completion of landscaping work was quickly supported by 130 responses.

In its submission to the council’s draft annual plan for 2024-25, the community board said Tomahawk had waited long enough.

"This site, once bustling with activity and laughter, has been left in an unfinished state that does not reflect the beauty or spirit of the Tomahawk community."

Ms Dicey said she wanted the council to help shape a proposal.

"I’d like to see leadership from the council to move this along for the nine-year plan."

The Grants Braes football club at the neighbouring Ocean Grove Sportsground is supportive of the venture.

Club vice-president and co-ordinator of junior football David Creedy said the club would like to see a pitch for junior football at the old school site, as well as creation of other community facilities.