Venues: “Monumental step” as community hub signed off

Thursday, May 30 2024

Venues: “Monumental step” as community hub signed off

Will Johnston 

“A positive result that brings certainty moving forward.” That’s how Sport Taranaki chief executive Michael Carr sums up the decision by the New Plymouth District Council to approve the Tūparikino Active Community Hub.  

Councillors voted in favour of the project during the 10-year long-term plan discussions this week. The staged option, at a cost of $50million, includes a multi-use minimum four-court indoor stadium built next at the southern end of the TSB Stadium. Extra perks are also including a multi-use turf and field developments at the New Plymouth racecourse.  

Carr has seen the project morph since it was introduced in the long-term plan three years ago. After a cost blowout to being paused, he says Monday’s decision is a “monumental step.” 

“It’s had some different iterations and been modified but it’s really exciting now that the stepping stone of getting it constructed, underway and utilised is a lot closer than what it was,” he said.  

The decision to effectively go with option three, instead of the favoured option two, allows the project to stay on track, Carr said.  

“During the last long-term plan, there was an idea for construction to get underway in year four. It allows us to continue on the timeline that we are currently working towards. At the back end of 2025, I would be very hopeful the shovels are in the ground and we’re underway.”  

He said there was a pragmatic approach with the cost-of-living crisis and emphasised the project was always going to be a staged and phased approach to fit into a “fiscal envelope.”  

Shelving the project after it was put on hold never went through Carr’s mind. A needs assessment completed in 2028 showed the facility was needed as sports, such as basketball and volleyball, had an injection of participants with reports teams were being turned away from playing because of the lack of space. 

“It showed we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. The need was always going to come through. There’s now light at the end of the tunnel.”  

But it will be more than a facility for traditional sport and will be a place where people can gather.  

“This will equally open up the opportunity for informal, recreation as well as traditional sport.” 

Once opened, he thinks around 9,000 people could be using it each week. With around 4,200 students within a two-kilometer radius of the facility’s location, that also reinforced the need for a venue in the New Plymouth district.  

“The need is growing more and more.” 

During the submission process, heave hitters from across New Zealand sport chipped in on the hub’s need. That included chief executives from Sport New Zealand, Raelene Castles, and Basketball NZ, Dillion Boucher.   

“To have that support from that national, regional and local people I think speak volumes to the collective that’s been involved in this project right from the get-go,” Carr said.  

There were also key partnerships formed with iwi and hapu along with the council.   

“The aspirations of the community are met with this facility.”  

Detailed plans are yet to be finalised.