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Waters of Kiwa Pools will connect us all

Thursday 24 August, 2023

Kiwa Pools was given a warm Tairāwhiti welcome with two special ceremonies signifying the official opening of the new complex yesterday.

A pre-dawn blessing and karakia whakawātea to clear the path of the new building was undertaken by tangata whenua, and attended by students and those closely connected to the project.

Later in the morning around 500 people from every generation gathered for the pōwhiri and ribbon cutting to officially open the building.

Guests included 300 schoolchildren from kura around Gisborne who provided supporting waita during the ceremony, led by Papa Pura.

Comments expressed in the whai kōrero by Taharakau Stewart of Rongowhakaata and Sir Derek Lardelli were reinforced by former Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon who also spoke in Te Reo.

Their messages were that despite the challenges we’ve had -- with Covid, Cyclone Gabrielle and other severe weather events -- what we have here with Kiwa Pools shows our true colours, and despite adversity, we’ve shown how a community can work together to get a result like this.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz says Kiwa Pools is a place where lots of love and laughter will be shared.

“Our community deserves a complex like this, where we can relax, swim and play together.

“Where we can all come together as a community to recharge our batteries, this will be our charging station.”

Mayor Rehette Stoltz thanked the Government for investing in our community.

The construction of Kiwa Pools was supported by $40million in funding from the Government as part of its nationwide Infrastructure Reference Group (IRG) funding in October 2022 announced by then Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern at the Olympic Pools Complex.

Crown Infrastructure Partners’ (CIP) CEO Graham Mitchell says the Kiwa Pools project was chosen out of $138billion worth of other bids all competing for this funding.

“When we saw this project, we didn’t hesitate to put it forward. This region has been underinvested in for some time.

“This project has been a great collaboration between central government, iwi, and local council. Future champions will train here.”

Kiwa Pools came in on budget at $46million with Council contributing the balance towards the project.

The complex has been co-designed by Ngāi Tāwhiri hapū, Gisborne District Council and Apollo Projects.

Tā Derek Lardelli worked with Architecture HDT and Apollo Projects ensuring the narrative of our region’s heritage was embedded into the design of Kiwa Pools.

Apollo Director, Paul Lloyd, says over the 22 years they’ve been in business the company has completed hundreds of projects.

“Every project has a story to tell. This project won’t just leave a story but a legacy, and not just on your community but with Apollo, and also personally with me and my wife.

“I remember the first meeting with Sir Derek Lardelli and Lady Rose, where he told me Kiwa Pools is not a place people come to swim, it will be a place where people come to learn.”

Mr Lloyd acknowledged the leadership of Gisborne District Council to ensure and demand this was a co-designed project with tangata whenua.

Council Chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says it’s a truly monumental occasion to open Kiwa Pools, one that had come through countless hours of hard work.

“We have deep gratitude for Ngāi Tāwhiri, whose land we stand on today, and thank you for sharing it with our community.”

Ms Thatcher Swann says she had worked to bring about a new pool for the community since starting at Council 15 years ago.

She thanked the talented and hard-working partners and contractors who’d poured that into the complex and worked through supply chain issues, Covid lockdowns, severe weather and five states of emergency to ensure the pool was open only five months shy of the original March target.

The collaboration for the build was represented by having three pairs of scissors for the ribbon cutting.

Further external funding has meant the complex was completed with a hydrotherapy pool, and solar panels on the roof to supplement the energy use of the pool.

RIBBON CUTTING: From left below are Crown Infrastructure Partners’ (CIP) CEO Graham Mitchell, Aio Bebe Hollis, Romia Whaanga, Hiki Swann, Mayor Rehette Stoltz, Council Chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann and Apollo Projects Director Paul Lloyd.

Ribbon cutting Kiwa Pools 23 Aug 2023

REFLECTIONS: When you go forward, you have to look at what you’ve left behind, said Council’s Senior Māori Engagement Officer Walton Walker who MC’d yesterday’s opening event at Kiwa Pools. The 50 years of memories from the old Olympic Pools were acknowledged during the unveiling of the community’s exciting new modern facility Kiwa Pools. Below is the large screen where movies can be watched reflecting across the water of Kiwa Pools’ new 50m World Aquatics certified Olympic Pool. Kiwa Pools opens to the public on Saturday 2 September. Online bookings are essential for the opening weekend deal of $2 for two hours.

Kiwa Pools 50m pool with TV