Yvonne and John Bilderbeck have run the Tahuna Conference Centre for 10 years but say the lack of communication over its future has been disheartening. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Council steps in to help Tahuna camp


The Nelson City Council has stepped in to help the Tahuna Holiday Park after its cafe is revealed to have lost $250,000 in the last two years, the Nelson Weekly has learned.

The council has appointed a business adviser to the Tahuna Camp Incorporated Society to ensure “the ongoing viability and sustainability of the camp” as well as ensuring it complies with its governance obligations.

Nelson City Council owns the land and then leases it back to the society to run it. The lease of the 22-hectare camp is up on June 1 and at a closed doors meeting last week council decided to renew the society’s lease until next year.

However, that future was still unknown when the Nelson Weekly spoke to the couple who have run the adjacent conference centre for the last 10 years.

“We have had to turn away $300,000 of work this year because we can’t guarantee to clients what will be here,” says outgoing centre manager John Bilderbeck. “The communication just hasn’t been there.”

According to the financial statements of the Tahuna Camp Incorporated Society, it is more than $907,000 in debt, largely due to a $1.3 million loan the council forwarded the society three years ago. However, the Tahuna Café and shop has lost $250,000 in the last two years.

“It’s a real bloody shame,” says John. “It’s a bloody good asset but the council won’t spend money on it. I don’t understand it.”

John and his wife Yvonne say that the situation has led them to retire from the facility, even though they have loved their time running it.

When they leave at the end of next month they will take with them all the event chattels that they have built up over the years.

“Then this place will be a bit of a shell,” says Yvonne. “We have just been collateral damage.”

Tahuna Beach Holiday Park general manager Marcel Fekkes would not comment and referred the Weekly to the Tahuna Beach Camp chairman Garry Ward, who said he could not comment.

Council’s acting group manager community services Roger Ball says the renewal of the lease ensures ‘business as usual’ for the camp and that planning can be put in place for another busy summer season.


Three years ago the society announced plans to revitalise the 92-year-old camp as part of a 20-year vision to turn it more into a “resort style” destination.