JOANN DOST/TARA ITI
Tara Iti Golf Club, designed by Tom Doak, could soon have two neighbouring golf courses.
US billionaire Ric Kayne is working with iwi to build two new golf courses at a north Auckland beach, right next to an existing luxury golf course he developed exclusively for the rich and famous.
In 2015 Kayne opened private members golf club Tara Iti on the sand dunes of Te Arai beach, 75 minute drive, or a 15 minute helicopter flight, north of Auckland.
The course, designed by renowned course designer Tom Doak, is considered one of the best in the world and last year hosted Barrack Obama and former prime minister John Key during the former US president’s visit to New Zealand.
Now Kaye wants to build two more golf courses at the same beach to create a world famous golfing destination.
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Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust chairman Mook Hohneck confirmed discussions with Kayne were under way for some of the 764 hectares of land the iwi received as part of its treaty settlement to be leased out for multiple golf courses.
“It’ll be huge for tourism. We’re like everyone else, we want the land to prosper. We want the land to be looked after,” Hohneck said.
Barack Obama and John Key play golf at Tara Iti, Mangawhai, Northland
Hohneck said he had known Kayne for more than a decade and had met him a number of times.
Kayne told the Herald he wanted to make New Zealand a “world golfing destination”, with the member-only Tara Iti to the north and the two new 18-hole public courses to the south.
In 2016 Kayne told Bloomberg he fell for the stretch of north Auckland coastline 20 years ago, imagining how the rolling sand dunes could be transformed into a spectacular golf course.
He and wife Suzanne have returned multiple times since, from their home in Los Angeles, enjoying the New Zealand aboard their super-yacht.
Kayne is now building a large home for himself on the sand dunes of Te Arai beach, next to the Mangawhai Wildlife Reserve, home to one of New Zealand’s most endangered birds, the fairy tern.
The site has become a topic of controversy with locals and environmentalists expressing concerns about an eight-string fence built by Kayne’s company Tara Iti Holdings, that extends – in places – up to 90m into the public reserve.
In total, 2.62 hectares of public land lies within the fence.
The fence was built with the approval of the Department of Conservation. The understanding is it protects the native planting work done by the golf club and weed control within the fence would be done by Tara Iti Holdings.
But based on OIA responses, DOC was unaware a house would eventually be built on the boundary.
New Zealand, with almost 400 golf courses, is becoming a popular destination for rich golfers looking to play rounds on dramatic courses like Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs, both ranked in the top 50 on Golf Digest’s list.
Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs are both owned by fellow US billionaire Julian Robertson, who late last year was given Government and Overseas Investment Office consent to buy waterfront land on Waiheke Island for $18.9 million for a luxury lodge.
Kayne has been contacted for comment.