Christchurch-based aquatics specialist Ian Coombes Limited has shared its experience in rebuilding the public swimming pool in the small South Island community of Waiau.
The rural North Canterbury town of approximately 250 people was left without a swimming pool after it was damaged beyond repair during the November 2016 earthquakes.
The Waiau River Valley suffers extreme seasonal temperatures, with mid-summer days in the early to mid-30 degrees a regular occurrence. With only the Waiau River to swim in, and the community’s strong desire to have all local children taught to be safe in and around water, the Waiau Pool Committee set themselves a massive task to replace the pool that they had lost during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Consisting of a small group of working parents, the Committee set about fundraising the required $1.6 million to build a new swimming pool complex for the Waiau Primary School and greater community.
The small community raised $300,000 for the project, which also attracted a range of funding including, as of July last year, a final $942,000 from the Lotteries Hurunui-Kaikoura Marlborough Earthquake Relief Fund.
With work commencing after the funding announcement, Ian Coombes Limited, the main contractor for the rebuild, accompanied by a talented team of local and Christchurch contractors, started digging the pool foundations and changing shed foundations early November 2018.
Just a few months later, in February this year, a new Myrtha Pools stainless steel 25 metre lap and 10 x 6 metre learners pool was opened at its Waiau Primary school site.
Architecturally designed and engineered by Create Inc Ltd, the pool uses solar heating panels for the main pool – which make use of summer heat to minimise operating costs – while the learners pool uses a heat pump for assured temperatures.
Commenting on the project, Hurunui District Council Chief Executive Hamish Dobbie said the rebuilding demonstrated the power of small communities in getting the project to completion.
He advised “it’s very exciting to see the progress on this community driven facility. Whilst the council is technically the holder of this asset, the reality is that the people of Waiau have raised all the funds and overseen the construction of this pool.”
Having originally been owned by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, the new facility is now Council owned and community operated.
With thanks to Angela Kearney of Ian Coombes Limited.
This article was first published in Australian Leisure Magazine 2019.