Students at Te Huruhi Primary contemplate their school’s empty pool that will not be replaced in the rebuild. From left, Nicky Hewetson, Hinemoa Arinoki, Sofia Basso, Simone Kelly, Tommy Clarke and Wesley Garmonsway. Photo Kelly Bouzaid

The trustees of both Waiheke High School and neighbouring Te Huruhi Primary – the site of the island’s original and now unusable junior school pool – are now considering a site to develop heated swimming pools between the two schools.

The new option adjacent to Donald Bruce Road is on the agenda for a Waiheke local board workshop today.

Several other options are already on the table to progress plans for swimming facilities for island students that go back decades.

Both schools have told the local board they are open to dialogue on a pool site within the schools’ grounds if it does not restrict their needs.

The new site, which would involve land being leased from the Ministry of Education, is currently occupied by classrooms and urgent work has to be done if the potential new site for a pool is to mesh with well-advanced plans for redevelopment of the two schools.

The opportunity has come from the schools themselves, says Waiheke Local Board deputy chairwoman Cath Handley and it is a different site from any so far considered. “We have an opportunity to explore this but the timeframe is limited. [The schools] are moving their plans for the redevelopment very quickly,” she says.

“The schools are not interested in co-managing a pool, so this would be a clean slate with the land available for a facility.”

Meanwhile the local board is doing a due diligence assessment on whether the option is suitable and requirements like water and wastewater disposal are adequate.
Another site, closer to the Hooks Lane entrance to the Ministry of Education property, has been considered for a lease for a heated pool site for some months. As with the new option, the facility would not be the responsibility of the two school boards but run separately.

Meanwhile, the Waiheke Community Pool Society Incorporated, led by Delyth Morgan Coghlan, has fielded plans for an aquatic facility including a covered pool and gym and venue hire. It would require 6300 square metres of land and the group has looked at a number of sites around the island, with the Rangihoua Sports Park a likely choice.

Their proposal for a covered pool was put to the schools and the local board in March. It envisages a 25 metre, five-lane lap pool, a learner toddler pool, spa and gym facilities, cafe/function space and a rehabilitation clinic.

The society says the additional facilities could help generate an estimated $840,000 a year towards the running costs of a year-round, covered, 1300 sq m facility.

Construction is estimated to cost $5 million, with $1m coming from Waiheke Local Board and the rest from grants, in-kind professional costs, fundraising and donations. The pool society has $126,000, including $100,000 raised last decade in an earlier attempt at obtaining a school pool.

Secretary Ann Brown says new building and passive solar heating technology is changing costs for such facilities and an updated version of their favoured covered pool proposal will be released at a meeting on 31 August preceding the society’s annual general meeting.

She says they anticipate a three to five-year lead time for the project and the society is inviting all parties to the discussion to see the results of its research so far at the end-of-month meeting.

Ms Handley says the local board is, in the meantime, working closely with the pool society to develop a memorandum of understanding that would establish common ground and achievable mutual goals.

It would also be important to establish what would be an affordable and sustainable model for the island, she said.

“We have to look at worst-case scenarios in terms of ongoing maintenance for the pool and costs.

“Ratepayers will have to be happy. They are the ones left picking up the tab for maintenance and depreciation. If patronage isn’t high enough, the community would be left with an asset and ongoing liability.

“This has to be financially prudent.”

Ms Handley says she anticipates that ultimately, when the current discussions are concluded, the community will be left with “one or two clear choices”.

If, as seemed likely, there was to be a targeted rate to enable a facility to be built, “the worst case scenarios would need to be well understood” by ratepayers, she said.

The pool society is looking to fill volunteer management positions with those with expertise in commercial development and construction, marketing, networking and developing relationships with key stakeholders and potential benefactors.

Secretary Ann Brown says anyone wishing to stand or nominate someone for an officer or general position has to be a member of the society. Anyone wanting to request a nomination form can email her at
Nominations close on Sunday 27 August at 7pm. • Liz Waters

Subscribe and read Gulf News and Waiheke Weekender Online