Health and sport centre starts October

Work on the buildings that will make up the first stage of the new community health and sports centre will get underway in October at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park.

After consultation showed public support for the project, Hastings District Council last week approved putting $2 million into the building phase.

The funds from Council took the fundraising to a point where building work could start, subject to resource and building consents, said the man leading the project, Sir Graeme Avery.

He told councillors last week that the Council contribution to the $15m budget would ensure the project remained on schedule. “By the time tenders need to be let, the trust is on track to have $12m raised to cover the main building with the balance of $3m in place for other parts of the project,” Sir Graeme said.

His submission was backed by individuals and Hawke’s Bay health and fitness organisations, including Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park Trust and Eastern Institute of Technology.

Once construction was completed, expected to be in early 2019 depending on construction company availability, the real work would start, he told councillors.

“That’s around putting the programmes in place that will start to fulfil the aims of the project; to improve the health and lifestyles of our people,” said Sir Graeme.

He said 85 per cent of users would be Hawke’s Bay residents, taking part in evidence-backed community health and training programmes at the facility, or through outreach programmes delivered through schools and community centres.

His vision was to provide nutrition and physical activity programmes that would change the behaviours that had led to an estimated 33 per cent of Hawke’s Bay adults being obese – starting with the children.

“While the programmes will be available across the ages, all the research shows that a propensity to obesity starts young. We have to do this, to help them avoid a life of inactivity and the resulting bad health.”

Already Sir Graeme’s Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust was supporting programmes in the community, including sport and fitness training at the Regional Sports Park and high school programmes as far away as Wairoa. Primary school pilot programmes will begin being rolled out from term three.

The other 15 per cent of users would be the region’s promising young sports people taking part in programmes that would potentially take them on to a professional level in their favoured sport. A “pop-up” centre has as many promising young athletes from across a range of sports training in it as it can fit – and Sir Graeme is looking at extending the “shed”.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said the community decision to back the facility was very good news.

“Based on the success of a very similar facility Sir Graeme instigated in Auckland, the AUT Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, I have no doubt that this will be a game changer for our people.

“While it is a fact that we have a major obesity problem here in Hawke’s Bay, it is also a fact that we have lots of small groups across the region doing great things to battle the issue. You just need to look at the success of initiatives like Iron Maori which has developed into a national phenomenon, Flaxmere group The Front Row (Dads getting fit), and the Flaxmere Boxing Academy and Patu to see we have the will. This facility will help us with the way.”