The Toitu Poneke Community and Sports Centre – or ‘The Hub’ – has restored ‘the heart beat’ of a critical community facility, says Sport NZ Spaces and Places Lead Jamie Delich.
Starting as the clubrooms of Poneke (Rugby) Football Club, the building has undergone a complete transformation. It is now the home of seven significant Wellington sporting and community clubs, and offers opportunities for conferences, business meetings, celebrations and community gatherings.
Stage one improvements of upgraded social and meeting spaces, better access and amenities, including for those with disabilities, and a new deck with improved viewing were completed in 2015. The final, second stage of a new indoor training facility and new entrance will be complete by the end of October.
Toitu (stand tall and proud together) Poneke (Wellington) is an exemplar response to a challenge familiar to communities around the country, Jamie says.
"A large number of under-utilised and deteriorating single sport or activity clubrooms around the country don't have critical mass for sustainability, with the ability to maintain a clubroom, constantly fundraising and attracting volunteers on top of retaining players and quality committee members proving difficult for many.
"Co-location and shared services such as has been achieved through developing Toitu Poneke provides a possible solution, along with better facilities for wider community interests - and the opportunity for locally-led activation on how the facilities can used for activities beyond sport."
An establishment board made up of the seven clubs (and chaired by Dame Margaret Bazley) worked with local Iwi and Global Leisure Group Ltd as the driving force behind the venture.
The hard working establishment board now hands the baton to a new board currently being selected to set the course for the centre, Jamie says.
He applauds the work of the establishment board and Wellington City Council, with the support of a host of charitable funders, in bringing organisations together to develop The Hub as a significant community asset.
"That coming together is absolutely critical to provide better facilities for the wellbeing of citizens, and to help councils bear the cost of facilities. It's a good strategy that enables better decision-making, and is very much in line with the principles of Sport NZ's National Sporting Facilities Framework.
Vibrant, multi-use facilities that foster a sense of community and belonging and provide a focal point for connecting people are also vital to encourage participation in community sport, he adds: "Particularly for young people, who we know need arrange of opportunities and quality experiences to keep them engaged in community sport and connected to the club environment."
Often, Jamie notes, the best outcomes are achieved by sharing: "We can absolutely see the truth of this in The Hub".
To find out more, visit The Hub website.