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Te Pou Toetoe Linwood Pool

Case Study, August 2023

Te Pou Toetoe Linwood Pool

Case Study, August 2023

Photo: Christchurch City Council

  • Owner: Christchurch City Council (CCC)
  • Operator: Christchurch City Council
  • Type: New development
  • Hierarchy: Local
  • Primary Function: Recreation
  • Secondary Function: Community venue, social and recreational events
  • Standard: Architectural
  • Planning Commenced: 2017
  • Construction completed: August 2021


A fit-for-purpose community aquatic facility that is embedded within the surrounding community.

Description of need/Challenge to solve

The need for a community space and pool for fun, social connection, and recreational activities was identified following extensive engagement with the community.

A significant number of residents without easy access to an aquatic facility live within the Linwood/Woolston community. A lack of proximity to a facility, and the community’s unique demographics, restrict their access to recreation and sports opportunities, specifically aquatics.

The ward contains some of the highest socio-economic deprivation areas in Christchurch City, and a higher percentage of Māori (18.3%) and Pasifika (9%) residents than Christchurch City, with a significant migrant population.

The Linwood Community Aspirations Report (2017), resulting from the council’s engagement, found that people:

  • valued community cohesion
  • sought a network of linked community places for support, recreation, and social connection
  • wanted a facility that celebrated the many cultures in the area and focused on family fun, social interaction, and health.

Among the children surveyed, swimming was the third most popular choice of activity.

Relevant CCC outcomes relating to delivery are:

  • strong sense of community
  • safe and healthy communities
  • celebration of identify through arts, culture, heritage, sport, and recreation
  • modern and robust city infrastructure and facilities.

Project specification

Facility total area: 2260m²



  • Learn to swim pool
  • Six-lane, 25-metre multi-use pool
  • Toddler pool and wet deck with water toys
  • Family spa
  • Deep water mānu pool.

Other spaces:

  • Small community meeting room
  • Large community room – multi-purpose space with rubber flooring
  • Community kitchen linked to large community space and accessible to outdoor gathering space
  • The outdoor area includes the community courts (2x tennis, 1x basketball, and 1x multi-use court) and has power and water accessible to the multi-use court.

Change facilities include:

  • 2 x accessible wet change facilities with shower and toilet
  • 2 x individual change facilities with shower
  • 4 x individual change facilities
  • 1 x male change facility
  • 1 x female change facility.

The facility is adjacent to or connected to:

  • existing sports fields
  • cycle paths and walkways
  • existing skate park
  • community courts
  • community gardens.

Project team

Across all phases of the project: 

Cultural Design Strategy:

Concept Development:

Design and Build Construction: 

Te Pou project partner logos

Project overview


Activity When

Linwood Village Development Aspirations report

(Completed prior to project, and a key document in community engagement and understanding)


Needs Analysis & Specification (GLG)


Project Team Established


Public Consultation including Open Day in Linwood Park


Site selection


Sign-off on site by Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board


Initial concept plans developed


Public Consultation (layout, programming & activities)


Concept plans completed


Sign-off by Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board


Construction started


Ongoing engagement with community on establishment of facility


Construction completed

August 2021

Centre opened

October 2021


Te Ao Māori

To embed the facility within its cultural history and place, the voice of mana whenua has been woven into the planning, design, and building of Te Pou Toetoe: Linwood Pool, through working with Matapopore, the mana whenua voice in the Canterbury recovery, from the start. Matapopore’s Cultural Design Strategy ensured that Māori cultural narratives were embedded into the design process, recognising the importance of whanaungatanga. Local Runanga Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri gifted the name Te Pou Toetoe, with Pou as a reference to both the building itself and the way we pass knowledge from generation to generation, and the toetoe plants which used to grow in the wetlands of Canterbury. The finished building reflects elements of the pre-European story of place and has design features such as the kite shape of the building, the flounder, shade sails with kite designs, and a mural en route to the pool area. A video on the facility website explains the design features and links to early Canterbury.

Community consultation and engagement

Facilitated by CCC’s Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Governance Team, an engagement process was undertaken with local residents and businesses. Consultation with the community began at the start of the project, to identify needs and allow input to the site selection. Ongoing consultation during the design/build process served to check that the facility was still meeting their needs Some key design requirements based on this process identified the need for:

  • Spaces for community recreation and community gatherings
  • Features that enable use by a range of ethnic groups including the ability to provide a women's only facility at times with no visibility into the pool hall, changing rooms and corridors from outside
  • Facilities that cater for family groups and food and related areas allowing for different cooking styles and social / family configurations in the social space
  • A linkage between the sports park and pool areas
  • Cost was noted as a barrier to participation.

The intention was to create “a facility that reflected the community not only in the building but in the staffing – seeing ‘people from within the community’ on the front desk, on the poolside, and having a real commitment to enriching the lives of THAT community”.

Sport Canterbury worked in partnership to activate the facility by providing funding and support through the Tū Manawa Fund for the women’s only sessions. They also assisted in the design of the Ki o Rahi line marking on the multi-use court.

The concept design and post-consent documents were audited by an independent accessibility advisor. This included consulting with those who have disabilities, or with disability-associated organisations to provide a user perspective.  The audit (which focused mainly on physical access, not auditory or sensory issues as such) noted some of the following adjustments to ensure access for all:

  • The access paths on the predominantly flat site have generous widths, at least 1800mm, greater than the accessibility requirements of the New Zealand Building Code.
  • The external community area is an open and vibrant area with a mixture of furniture inclusive of accessible picnic tables, drinking fountains and bench seating with arms. 
  • The main public accessible routes throughout the building from the reception area to the pool hall has 1800mm minimum widths, with 1 in 12 ramps to enable ease of transitions between levels.
  • Main internal ramp to pool changing area has a clear width of 2400mm.
  • Throughout the building, the colours and signage has been carefully selected to provide contrast and clear direction for ease of wayfinding. 

Engagement and consultation with youth, and a youth-friendly audit, was undertaken by ReVision.

Provision for gender-diverse participants involved consultation with Qtopia and other councils throughout New Zealand. Changing room signage was shared with Qtopia for feedback and training by Qtopia was arranged for staff working at the facility.

Sustainability considerations

Sustainability was an important aspect at all stages of the project. Through the site selection process, the proximity of the facility to cycle pathways and bus transport routes was assessed. The use of active transport is encouraged and supported by cycle and scooter stands outside the facility.

Initial plans saw the inclusion of wastewater heat recovery, however this was amended following further review to heat recovery (heat exchangers and in-built air-sourced heat pumps). In addition, elevating the building platform and separating the main and manu pools provided sustainable efficiencies – this not only meant dewatering was avoided during construction, but also that those water areas are less likely to sit adjacent to the water table during operation, making them more efficient to heat.

Waste on site was an important part of the construction process and minimised by reusing materials where possible. Waste was separated into different bins to allow recycling of metals, woods, etc.

The build went above and beyond building code requirements.

Key success factors

A clear success factor was getting it right at the start, with a clear purpose linked to community needs and aspiration and ongoing monitoring during the design process to ensure the original brief was met..

Another critical component of this project was the comprehensive community engagement to identify the community’s needs, and ensuring the community had a voice during the development of the concept design.

The design and specifications for the facility are tailored to a specific, low-decile, multi-cultural community.

The facility was delivered under budget and ahead of time during a period of COVID-19 restrictions. Particular programmes have focused on specific groups (for example women-only sessions and pool parties for teenagers). The facility also features accessible design to cater to a wide variety of users.

In recognition of its unique features, a year after opening, Te Pou Toetoe won the Outstanding Pool category at the 2022 Recreation Aotearoa Awards. The pool was recognised for its focus on minimising barriers and encouraging diversity through innovative design and a community-led approach.

Participant voice

“We are the women, the grandmothers, and if our grandchildren see us in the pool they will be safe, and know the pool is a place they can be.”

(from women-only session participant)

“My family are very happy…because we get to go swim as a family for free and call a day out...everyone having fun...because before we had free access, we hardly went for a swim, but as soon as these swimming lessons started and we had free access, we go swim[ming] every week.”
“Swimming lessons have given them so much more confidence in the water. I can see improvement every time we are at the pools. As a family of six, there was no way we could have made this possible without [support].”

(from swimming programme participants)

Challenges/Lessons learned

CCC project sponsor, Lizzy Johnson makes the following comments and recommendations based on her experience working on the Te Pou Toetoe project:

A challenging aspect for planning is managing the expectations of the community and of elected members against what is achievable within the budget available.

Circle back to ‘what is the purpose, what are we delivering on? Are we still meeting those needs?’

Keep the community and elected members informed throughout the journey of the project and make it clear if changes are being made, why you’re doing it.

Three important elements:

  • Take time early: time to talk with the community, understand your purpose, drill into the whys and hows, investigate options, and not take shortcuts. Time will be saved later by getting it right at the start. This project build was largely seamless.
  • Make it fit: in terms of within its environment and within its community. It doesn’t have to be flashy. It has to be fit-for-purpose.
  • Create something unique: and find your place in a populated market. This facility had recreation as a focus, which is different from our other pools.

Technical considerations:

  • Pool humidity provided challenges post-construction. This required modifications to the ducting. The challenges around humidity caused flow-on issues with the auto door functionality into the pool area and rusting, which have now been resolved.
  • There have been few technical hitches overall.


CCC intend to evaluate the performance and impact of the facility through:

  • Benefit management planning to ensure that the benefits associated with the Linwood Pool are being identified, measured, and reported.
  • Post Occupancy Evaluation (“POE”).
  • Customer Feedback/Programme development.

User profile and utilisation rates

During the 2022/23 year there was a total of 309,566 participations, which includes casual users, members/multi-visit pass holders, swim education, aqua fitness, room hire, and Tumbletimes attendees.

Project cost

Total cost: $23 million

Project Funding Model

Total Project Cost  

$23 million


Total Operating Cost  

$2,845,654 per annum




Pre-Design and Concept


Operating Expenses

Staff & Contractors






Completion and Construction



Maintenance & repairs



Project Funding

Local Government  





 Included in maintenance




























 Security and rubbish disposal







 Not separated by facility











Total Operating Income

$985,000 per annum






Income Sources

Community User Pays

















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