Having an impact

GREAT OCCASION: Argentina’s Macarena Rodriguez Perez and New Zealand’s Anita Punt battle for possession in a hockey international on the new artificial turf at Gisborne in 2015. Picture by Paul Rickard
A COMMON GOAL: Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Stefan Pishief, at the Waikirikiri Park softball skin diamond, says key players in the city want the same thing — “multi-purpose facilities that are fit for our region and sustainable”. Picture by Liam Clayton

A drive for better sporting facilities in Gisborne is starting to get going. Other communities have shown it can be done. Grant Miller and Maika Akroyd report.

Leighton Evans casts his mind back to April 7, 2015 — the day the New Zealand women’s Black Sticks beat Argentina 1-0 in the first test on Gisborne’s new artificial hockey turf.

“It was a great event,” he says.
“I was really proud of our community, being able to host that.”

He also recalls a sense of relief, because a facility that had been talked about for 15 years had become a reality.

Evans, now chief executive of the Rata Foundation based in Christchurch, was then general manager of the Eastland Community Trust and chairman of the Harry Barker Sports Facilities Trust.
“The need for the turf was obvious,” he says.

The community acknowledged that need, which helped create momentum.
“When you’ve got the majority of the community behind you, these projects seem to happen.”

Three key elements were validating the community need, sourcing the money and land.
“The hardest piece of the puzzle is the initial getting started.
“Once there are drawings, people start believing in the dream. Once they start believing, momentum gets in behind it.”

Right now, needs abound in the Tairawhiti sporting sector. Netball courts at Victoria Domain need resurfacing. Waka ama boats need shelter. Ageing grandstands and changing rooms at Harry Barker Reserve and Rugby Park need to be sorted out. The Olympic Pool needs to be redeveloped.

Hockey has its turf. Softball has had its skin diamond at Waikirikiri Park since 2016. But they are two lonely examples of significant progress in recent years.

Basketball, which is booming, and netball, which has a high participation rate, have just one public indoor court in Gisborne available to them, provided by the YMCA.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Stefan Pishief says the need for improved facilities is “huge”.

“Facilities are falling apart and other opportunities aren’t being realised,” he says.

‘Community cohesion and big-picture thinking’ the key

“We’re getting to a critical moment. It’s a dire situation and we really need to take action as a community to get some better sporting facilities.”

Pishief acknowledges frustration in the sporting sector about conversations in the past that have not led to positive results.
“However, I do think that over the next few years we will see some wins. We have to.”

Gisborne Basketball Association chairman Dwayne Tamatea says his organisation has been concentrating on junior basketball.
“We’re lucky that our sport is growing. But we’re running the risk of not being able to cater for the growth — locally, regionally and nationally.”

Tamatea says 12 men’s teams and eight women’s teams were in the local competition this year. Thirty-six primary school teams played miniball and the intermediate level had about a dozen teams. Most high schools have senior and junior teams and Tairawhiti has age-group representative sides from under-11s through to u19s.
But these representative teams usually have to travel.

The Gisborne association was asked to host a regional secondary schools girls’ qualifying tournament for nationals next year but had to turn it down.
“We just don’t have the facilities,” Tamatea says. The basketball community is “making do with what we’ve got” but a multi-court indoor stadium would be great for community well-being.
He’s not sure whose job it is to make it happen — to lead the charge.
“Talk has been going on for too long and we need some action.”

Sir Graeme Avery, Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust chairman, knows about action.
The trust was set up to build and operate a hub to promote health and well-being for the general community, as well as assisting sports performance of talented youth.
“There was a pressing, previously unidentified, real need in the region to address the poor health statistics and, in particular, the major and rising costs associated with the complications of an unhealthy weight and lack of regular physical activity,” he says.
“Talented young sportspeople did not have a base or system to help develop their talent.”

The trust embarked on a capital fundraising campaign to build the first stage of the hub headquarters in Hastings, now known as the EIT Institute of Sport and Health.
“The programmes developed by the trust are already having an impact across the whole region and will be transformational for enhanced health and sports-performance outcomes.
“A community-led project to meet an urgent and real need can have a profound and enduring impact across a whole community. Making it happen requires much planning and sheer hard work by a small, committed group of volunteers.”

The woman appointed to get something going in Tairawhiti is community facilities partnerships adviser Abbe Banks. It’s a position funded by Gisborne District Council, Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti and Trust Tairawhiti.
“I’m enthusiastic about the opportunities that surround this role to replace, upgrade and grow our facilities, with the future in mind,” she says.
“The current state of play is focused on continuing to work with the community and funders to establish a commitment to an appropriate level of funding towards Tairawhiti facilities.”

Banks says success will come from “community cohesion” and big-picture thinking.
“This will take an innovative approach around investment and development of multi-code, multi-user, flexible and sustainable spaces.”
It’s no easy job, though.

Gisborne District Council’s 2018 Community Facilities Strategic Framework identifies nine priority projects. Collectively, they add up to about $65 million.

Part of Banks’ job is to come up with an achievable action plan and work out what can be done when.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz sees success as “working together with our partners to start doing what is stated in our strategy and in our plan”.
She points out the council has to take care of roads, stormwater and wastewater systems first and foremost, while also having responsibility for “the liveability of our city”.
“Everything in local government is a balancing act.”

The council’s director of liveable communities, Andrew White, says the state of sports facilities is a “significant well-being issue for our community and it needs to be dealt with”.
“But money doesn’t come out of thin air.”

White says comparable communities tend to have indoor sports facilities but they are a “very expensive activity to be involved in”.
The council has been clear that it is concentrating on relationships first and facilities second.
“We are focused on completing due diligence in the partnership space before moving ahead with projects or facilities,” White says.
“This work is advancing and moving closer to an implementation plan.”

Trust Tairawhiti looks set to be a key player in any solutions, as it has $100m to spend in the next few years, although not exclusively on sport.
Other communities have got the job done.

Napier has Park Island, which brings various codes together at the same site.

Te Awamutu, which has a population of about 14,000 when the surrounding rural area and nearby Kihikihi are included, has a multi-court indoor stadium and slide-away seating that can accommodate 800 people.

Waipa Mayor Jim Mylchreest says the project, which also included creating an indoor pool, succeeded after a community trust was established.
“The motivation was the lack of a town hall in Te Awamutu and the collapse of the existing outdoor pools. It was funded by a mix of rates, loans, reserves and fundraising. The fundraising was undertaken by the community trust.”

The Poneke Rugby Club in Wellington used to have ageing clubrooms. What’s there now is a modern building servicing the needs of multiple sports.
Toitu Poneke Community and Sports Centre chairman Ross Jamieson says 27 sports clubs were approached to be part of the hub and seven signed up.
It took four years to raise $2.5m. Among the big contributors were the rugby club ($130,000), the Lotteries Grants Board ($500,000) and Wellington City Council ($750,000).
Jamieson says the clubs generally work in harmony and the hub has had a 763 percent increase in usage in the past 12 months.
He says there’s no point forcing sports codes to be part of hubs — they need to come to the table on their own terms.
“They have to see the benefits of being part of something bigger.”

Gisborne bowls advocate Trevor Mills can recall being part of a discussion about sports facilities about two years ago. The sport has three greens in the city, all on private land, and aspires to provide a covered facility.
A couple of things stuck in his memory from the meeting. One was the idea of a hub at Rugby Park and the other was that Gisborne sports facilities, compared with those in other regions, didn’t appear to be in good nick.

Pishief says key players in Gisborne all want the same thing — “multi-purpose facilities that are fit for our region and sustainable”.
“We need to be building things that are going to be used all the time by our local communities.
“I think funders are ready to invest some money in this space — they just want some certainty as to which areas to start with.”

Although hockey and softball are examples of progress, more work can be done to develop Harry Barker Reserve and Waikirikiri Park. Drainage at Waikirikiri is not ideal. Engineers are assessing the Harry Barker grandstand for the council to check for structural or earthquake risks and a report is expected in January. The showers under the grandstand have also deteriorated.

Two years after the opening of the turf, The Gisborne Herald reported that hockey was on a roll. Junior numbers were up, players had a higher skill level and the facility was being well used.
Hockey correspondent for the Herald Tony Scragg says the turf has had a clear impact.
“For hockey, having an upgraded facility has allowed us to be on par with other regions and that is showing through with our representative grades.”
Tairawhiti Softball president Walton Walker says that, since the skin diamond was put in, Gisborne has hosted a New Zealand Black Sox training camp and three national tournaments. “I knew it would have that impact.”

Evans says the people behind projects whose time has not yet come should not despair.
“A good idea remains a good idea.”

A drive for better sporting facilities in Gisborne is starting to get going. Other communities have shown it can be done. Grant Miller and Maika Akroyd report.

Leighton Evans casts his mind back to April 7, 2015 — the day the New Zealand women’s Black Sticks beat Argentina 1-0 in the first test on Gisborne’s new artificial hockey turf.

“It was a great event,” he says.
“I was really proud of our community, being able to host that.”

He also recalls a sense of relief, because a facility that had been talked about for 15 years had become a reality.

Evans, now chief executive of the Rata Foundation based in Christchurch, was then general manager of the Eastland Community Trust and chairman of the Harry Barker Sports Facilities Trust.
“The need for the turf was obvious,” he says.

The community acknowledged that need, which helped create momentum.
“When you’ve got the majority of the community behind you, these projects seem to happen.”

Three key elements were validating the community need, sourcing the money and land.
“The hardest piece of the puzzle is the initial getting started.
“Once there are drawings, people start believing in the dream. Once they start believing, momentum gets in behind it.”

Right now, needs abound in the Tairawhiti sporting sector. Netball courts at Victoria Domain need resurfacing. Waka ama boats need shelter. Ageing grandstands and changing rooms at Harry Barker Reserve and Rugby Park need to be sorted out. The Olympic Pool needs to be redeveloped.

Hockey has its turf. Softball has had its skin diamond at Waikirikiri Park since 2016. But they are two lonely examples of significant progress in recent years.

Basketball, which is booming, and netball, which has a high participation rate, have just one public indoor court in Gisborne available to them, provided by the YMCA.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Stefan Pishief says the need for improved facilities is “huge”.

“Facilities are falling apart and other opportunities aren’t being realised,” he says.

‘Community cohesion and big-picture thinking’ the key

“We’re getting to a critical moment. It’s a dire situation and we really need to take action as a community to get some better sporting facilities.”

Pishief acknowledges frustration in the sporting sector about conversations in the past that have not led to positive results.
“However, I do think that over the next few years we will see some wins. We have to.”

Gisborne Basketball Association chairman Dwayne Tamatea says his organisation has been concentrating on junior basketball.
“We’re lucky that our sport is growing. But we’re running the risk of not being able to cater for the growth — locally, regionally and nationally.”

Tamatea says 12 men’s teams and eight women’s teams were in the local competition this year. Thirty-six primary school teams played miniball and the intermediate level had about a dozen teams. Most high schools have senior and junior teams and Tairawhiti has age-group representative sides from under-11s through to u19s.
But these representative teams usually have to travel.

The Gisborne association was asked to host a regional secondary schools girls’ qualifying tournament for nationals next year but had to turn it down.
“We just don’t have the facilities,” Tamatea says. The basketball community is “making do with what we’ve got” but a multi-court indoor stadium would be great for community well-being.
He’s not sure whose job it is to make it happen — to lead the charge.
“Talk has been going on for too long and we need some action.”

Sir Graeme Avery, Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust chairman, knows about action.
The trust was set up to build and operate a hub to promote health and well-being for the general community, as well as assisting sports performance of talented youth.
“There was a pressing, previously unidentified, real need in the region to address the poor health statistics and, in particular, the major and rising costs associated with the complications of an unhealthy weight and lack of regular physical activity,” he says.
“Talented young sportspeople did not have a base or system to help develop their talent.”

The trust embarked on a capital fundraising campaign to build the first stage of the hub headquarters in Hastings, now known as the EIT Institute of Sport and Health.
“The programmes developed by the trust are already having an impact across the whole region and will be transformational for enhanced health and sports-performance outcomes.
“A community-led project to meet an urgent and real need can have a profound and enduring impact across a whole community. Making it happen requires much planning and sheer hard work by a small, committed group of volunteers.”

The woman appointed to get something going in Tairawhiti is community facilities partnerships adviser Abbe Banks. It’s a position funded by Gisborne District Council, Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti and Trust Tairawhiti.
“I’m enthusiastic about the opportunities that surround this role to replace, upgrade and grow our facilities, with the future in mind,” she says.
“The current state of play is focused on continuing to work with the community and funders to establish a commitment to an appropriate level of funding towards Tairawhiti facilities.”

Banks says success will come from “community cohesion” and big-picture thinking.
“This will take an innovative approach around investment and development of multi-code, multi-user, flexible and sustainable spaces.”
It’s no easy job, though.

Gisborne District Council’s 2018 Community Facilities Strategic Framework identifies nine priority projects. Collectively, they add up to about $65 million.

Part of Banks’ job is to come up with an achievable action plan and work out what can be done when.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz sees success as “working together with our partners to start doing what is stated in our strategy and in our plan”.
She points out the council has to take care of roads, stormwater and wastewater systems first and foremost, while also having responsibility for “the liveability of our city”.
“Everything in local government is a balancing act.”

The council’s director of liveable communities, Andrew White, says the state of sports facilities is a “significant well-being issue for our community and it needs to be dealt with”.
“But money doesn’t come out of thin air.”

White says comparable communities tend to have indoor sports facilities but they are a “very expensive activity to be involved in”.
The council has been clear that it is concentrating on relationships first and facilities second.
“We are focused on completing due diligence in the partnership space before moving ahead with projects or facilities,” White says.
“This work is advancing and moving closer to an implementation plan.”

Trust Tairawhiti looks set to be a key player in any solutions, as it has $100m to spend in the next few years, although not exclusively on sport.
Other communities have got the job done.

Napier has Park Island, which brings various codes together at the same site.

Te Awamutu, which has a population of about 14,000 when the surrounding rural area and nearby Kihikihi are included, has a multi-court indoor stadium and slide-away seating that can accommodate 800 people.

Waipa Mayor Jim Mylchreest says the project, which also included creating an indoor pool, succeeded after a community trust was established.
“The motivation was the lack of a town hall in Te Awamutu and the collapse of the existing outdoor pools. It was funded by a mix of rates, loans, reserves and fundraising. The fundraising was undertaken by the community trust.”

The Poneke Rugby Club in Wellington used to have ageing clubrooms. What’s there now is a modern building servicing the needs of multiple sports.
Toitu Poneke Community and Sports Centre chairman Ross Jamieson says 27 sports clubs were approached to be part of the hub and seven signed up.
It took four years to raise $2.5m. Among the big contributors were the rugby club ($130,000), the Lotteries Grants Board ($500,000) and Wellington City Council ($750,000).
Jamieson says the clubs generally work in harmony and the hub has had a 763 percent increase in usage in the past 12 months.
He says there’s no point forcing sports codes to be part of hubs — they need to come to the table on their own terms.
“They have to see the benefits of being part of something bigger.”

Gisborne bowls advocate Trevor Mills can recall being part of a discussion about sports facilities about two years ago. The sport has three greens in the city, all on private land, and aspires to provide a covered facility.
A couple of things stuck in his memory from the meeting. One was the idea of a hub at Rugby Park and the other was that Gisborne sports facilities, compared with those in other regions, didn’t appear to be in good nick.

Pishief says key players in Gisborne all want the same thing — “multi-purpose facilities that are fit for our region and sustainable”.
“We need to be building things that are going to be used all the time by our local communities.
“I think funders are ready to invest some money in this space — they just want some certainty as to which areas to start with.”

Although hockey and softball are examples of progress, more work can be done to develop Harry Barker Reserve and Waikirikiri Park. Drainage at Waikirikiri is not ideal. Engineers are assessing the Harry Barker grandstand for the council to check for structural or earthquake risks and a report is expected in January. The showers under the grandstand have also deteriorated.

Two years after the opening of the turf, The Gisborne Herald reported that hockey was on a roll. Junior numbers were up, players had a higher skill level and the facility was being well used.
Hockey correspondent for the Herald Tony Scragg says the turf has had a clear impact.
“For hockey, having an upgraded facility has allowed us to be on par with other regions and that is showing through with our representative grades.”
Tairawhiti Softball president Walton Walker says that, since the skin diamond was put in, Gisborne has hosted a New Zealand Black Sox training camp and three national tournaments. “I knew it would have that impact.”

Evans says the people behind projects whose time has not yet come should not despair.
“A good idea remains a good idea.”

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.