Does Waiheke need an outdoor or an indoor pool? Views on the topic are divided, with some supporting Waiheke Pool Society’s view that an indoor pool is necessary to meet community needs and others saying a more affordable outdoor pool is the only realistic option.
Swimgym Waiheke head teacher Cara Tahapehi says an outdoor pool should be pursued to make sure the island has a pool at all. She supports plans being promoted by Waiheke Local Board chairperson Paul Walden to create two heated outdoor pools beside Waiheke Recreation Centre on Donald Bruce Road.
Te Huruhi Primary School’s pool has been closed for the past year, because of difficulties with getting cracks repaired, and is reaching the end of its lifespan.
“There’s no question how amazing an indoor pool would be, but it’s keeping it realistic with limited funds,” Ms Tahapehi says.
The island urgently needs a pool to provide for a wide range of people who currently have to leave the island to access pool facilities, she says.
“Having no pool is such a shame for a growing community and for so many kids that need those essential life skills.
“I would love to see a new pool for summer – even just getting in the right direction, because it’s just going around and around.”
Waiheke Local Board member Shirin Brown says she would like to see the pool society given a chance to raise the money needed for an indoor pool.
“An indoor pool will be more expensive, but it’s what the community wants,” Ms Brown says. “Teens need a fun place to go, our population is ageing and older people want to do aqua gym and laps.
“There’s a whole bunch of uses an outdoor pool won’t cater for because it will only be open for that short season.”
Swimgym Waiheke instructor Amanda Wills also says an indoor pool is the only way to go. An indoor pool would allow swimming lessons and training to continue all year and a swimming club could host competitions.
“Auckland Council have to look after the children on this island and make sure there’s a facility for them to learn to swim,” Ms Wills says.
“It’s unfair we have to go off island to do that. Every other sport gets help and it’s the most important thing to do.”
An indoor pool would cost more, but it would also generate more revenue, she says. “An indoor pool would serve the community better – it can be used by every age group from babies and toddlers to adults and physios could use it for hydrotherapy. It creates more usage.”
Plans for a pool have stalled since Waiheke Pool Society voiced a lack of support for the local board’s proposal for heated outdoor pools that would share facilities with the recreation centre. Society chairperson Delyth Morgan-Coghlan says the pool must be indoors to fulfil the community’s needs and offer year-round use.
The society is “confident” that money can be raised to build indoor pools at Onetangi Sports Park or on Ministry of Education land beside the recreation centre.
However, local board chairperson Mr Walden says heated outdoor pools at the recreation centre that could be covered at a later stage are the only practical possibility in the near future.
The local board commissioned reports by APR Consultants in 2014 and 2015 on the viability of a pool for the island. APR states that outdoor pools cost about $120,400 a season to operate, while indoor pools cost about $547,800 a year to run. Outdoor pools could be built for about $1.2 million, while an indoor pool would cost between $3.18 million and $3.48 million.
The consultants recommend a 25m by 12m lane pool and a 12m by 8m learners’ pool. • Rose Davis