Recent media articles about The Waiheke Recreation Centre

In recent months, there have been a number of articles appearing in various local Waiheke newspapers.  The discussions have been around the proposed new or upgraded Waiheke swimming pool.  Whilst we welcome this debate, we must respond to these media articles to correct some factual errors, and to clearly state the intention of the Recreation Centre Trust, since we have been widely connected to the conversation.

Many people, including some on the Recreation Centre Trust, are passionate about a new or upgraded swimming pool facility on Waiheke.  The Recreation Centre has been flagged as a possible location for such a facility and a comprehensive report was commissioned to investigate the feasibility of this.  This report, fondly referred to as “the APR report”, was conducted by an external consultancy APR CONSULTANTS LTD in August 2015.

It raises many valid concerns and suggestions, each of which must be considered separately and carefully in order for the parties involved to be able to progress the discussion.  Some of these issues are complex and that’s where this report is lacking.  However, it is a good starting point and an opportunity we are embracing.

The report is not yet public (at the request of other involved parties), but when it is, I will share it here.

Meanwhile, here is a press statement that has been sent for publication to the local media.

As Chair of the Waiheke Recreation Centre Trust, I would like to offer clarification of our position concerning the recent APR report and proposed swimming pool, as raised in recent media articles.

Firstly, a brief background, which is important to consider in context of this debate about our future. The Recreation Centre Trust is a registered not-for-profit charity, made up of volunteers; four user group (community) representatives; four high school representatives; and one local board representative. We rely on funding from Auckland Council and also derive some income from local board and other grants, community user group fees (e.g. basketball, indoor soccer, martial arts etc) and the high school, which contributes approx. 35% (sometimes more) towards costs.

The Trust is an independent body, established to enable the facility to be run and managed as a community asset. However, the building is on Ministry Of Education land and the Trust Deed stipulates that the high school should have exclusive access during school hours in order to deliver their sports curriculum. After hours, at weekends & during school holidays, the Rec Centre is open to the public (and available for hire when not being used) for a variety of sports and fitness activities – the timetables of which are published on our website. Contrary to recent comments in the media, the Recreation Centre Trust and the Waiheke High School have a positive and constructive working relationship.

The recent APR report has generated some excitement because it offers an interesting perspective on “how things could look” if a swimming pool were to be built at or near the Rec Centre. The swimming pool is a valid proposal that has been put forward by the local board and as a democratic trust, we are fully open to these discussions and willing to explore all the possibilities.  Whilst the 80 page report is a great starting point for dialogue, it does not hold all the answers around the complex issues of funding, maintenance, governance, overall responsibility or upcoming legislative changes around student health and safety.

Whilst a swimming pool on Waiheke may be desirable, a swimming pool at the Rec Centre needs to be sustainable and most importantly, it must not negatively impact existing facilities and arrangements. The High School in particular, is a key stakeholder for the reasons mentioned above and we must address their valid concerns, particularly around delivery of the curriculum and child safety.  If the swimming pool is to be built at the Rec Centre, and that is certainly a possibility, there needs to be clear agreement on the core issues and an effective willingness for all parties to work closely to reach accord. That is what we are currently working towards and we are very willing to participate in independent facilitation to assist with the process.  Furthermore, we also welcome inclusive contributions to the debate from the Waiheke Pool Society, Waiheke Primary School and other interested community groups.

I’m in regular communication with the High School Board of Trustees chair, the High School principal and the local board chair. Our mutually agreed objective is to negotiate and co-ordinate a shared and sustainable vision that will offer the best outcome for all parties and for the community as a whole. This is an exciting opportunity for our community and one that I support personally . It would be a travesty if allocated funding secured by the local board were to be lost. Nevertheless, whilst time is of the essence, this process needs careful navigation, and the concerns of all parties must be properly addressed.

Yours sincerely

Sol Harris
Chair, Waiheke Recreation Centre Trust

Our Mission
“The Waiheke Recreation Centre is an inclusive, multi-purpose venue accessible to the Waiheke community enabling fun, health, education and well-being”