Artist’s impression of the new indoor multi-sports venue to be built at Lindvart Park in Kaikohe. Photo / provided
More than two years after funding was announced – and decades after the idea was first floated – work is finally about to begin on an indoor sports complex in Kaikohe.
The new multi-sports gymnasium,
the centerpiece of a $14.8 million redevelopment of Lindvart Park, will meet 25 sporting codes and feature two full-size indoor courts.
More than 60 parking lots, new public toilets and better lighting for night sports training are planned.
The project is being undertaken by Kaikohe and Districts Sportsville, which manage sports facilities at Lindvart Park on behalf of the Far North District Council.
The first earthworks have started and the piling is due to start on September 20.
Sportsville President Justin Blaikie said he was pleased to have firm dates for the start of construction, even though the project had been scaled back from initial designs.
“Like all construction projects in New Zealand, we have been under enormous pressure from inflation and construction cost increases related to Covid-19,” he said.
“Our committee had to make tough decisions regarding downsizing the gymnasium and also reattaching architectural elements of the building that were designed to reflect Ngāpuhitanga.”
The government’s Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund covers almost half of the costs.
The $6.2 million grant was announced by former Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in July 2020 amid tears and jubilation in Kaikohe.
However, soaring costs, the need to modify the design and then have the reduced plans approved by government ministers, meant that the people of Kaikohe had to endure a tense wait to find out if the project would go ahead.
“Given the community enthusiasm around the project, we were doing cartwheels when the project variants were approved. This investment is a game-changer for the well-being of our community,” he said.
“We still have additional funds to raise, which is the focus of our efforts at the moment. We are extremely grateful to our funding partners for agreeing to allow us to start, it is essential that we can lock in the contracts and set prices to guarantee project costs. does not get worse.”
Other funding came from Far North District Council ($3.58 million), Northland Regional Council ($1.4 million), lotteries ($512,000) and the Tourism Infrastructure Fund ($312,000). $).
The construction site was blessed in July by the Hapū chiefs, who recited a traditional blessing at dawn to ensure the success of the project. Blaikie said it was “awesome” to see promising young hapū representatives perform takutaku (karakia recitation).
The project was expected to be completed in 2024, and local hapūs were asked to name the facility.
Blaikie said the sports complex was being built in the heart of Ngāpuhi, so it was only fitting that its name reflect Ngāpuhitanga.
The gymnasium would also be used as a venue for arts and culture with acoustic panels a key part of the design.
Maori designs and artwork by local carvers are said to link the building to the region’s rich Ngāpuhi history.
The initial architectural design was facilitated by Ākau, who engaged with youth and hapū to ensure that the site’s whakapapa and youth aspirations were reflected in the design.
Two schools that do not have their own indoor sports space – Kaikohe Christian School and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe – will be the primary users of the new facility on weekdays.
Many people helped get the project started, Blaikie said.
They included Kaikohe sports stalwart Taal Smith, who helped seek funding for Covid-19 response and recovery; councilors and staff from the Far North District who supported the project and requested funding for tourism infrastructure at a critical time; and Brent Markwick of Sport Northland, who served on the Sportsville Board for nine years and provided valuable experience and governance support.
Blaikie said Sportsville, on behalf of Kaikohe and surrounding communities, also couldn’t thank Kānoa and the central government enough. The Kānoa Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit is the agency that manages the government’s share of the funding.
The Lindvart Park clubrooms, built in 1983 with toilets and changing rooms on the ground floor, will be retained. The only artificial hockey turf in the Far North was added in 2010.
The new facility was to include a 300m² auxiliary gymnasium for gymnastics and martial arts, but this was scrapped due to skyrocketing costs.
The dream of an indoor sports complex in Kaikohe, which has the highest proportion of young people of any city in Northland, dates back decades.
It seemed imminent in July 2020 when more than 300 people gathered at Lindvart Park when the funding was announced by Jones and an emotional Cheryl Waaka-Smith, a former Black Fern World Champion.
At the time, Waaka-Smith said that Kaikohe youngsters would soon have a world-class gymnasium and that the path she had followed to represent New Zealand would be open to all.
“I couldn’t be happier knowing that when I’m older I’ll be able to walk into a facility and see our rangatahi perform to the best of their abilities, and they won’t have to leave the Mid North to achieve their goal. goals,” she said.