An ambitious plan to build a community health and fitness centre at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park was publicly launched last night.
The later stages of the $15 million project also include a new Olympic pool for Hawke's Bay.
Spearheaded by Sir Graeme Avery, who was also the driving force behind AUT Millennium, the Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust has a vision to create a community health, recreation and sport centre of excellence, which could be open to the public by the end of 2018.
The first stage of development includes a large recreation and sports hall with a sport climbing wall, a community health and fitness gym, health tutorial rooms, a strength conditioning gym, tenanted offices, sport science and sport medicine facilities, a cafe, a skateboard training facility and an accommodation lodge.
A pool would be part of the second stage. Sir Graeme said there was widespread interest for a pool due to an acute shortage of water space in the region.
The centre will feature a 55m pool for recreational swimming, aquarobics, swimming and water polo training and school competitions. It will also have a dedicated learn to swim and water safety education pool.
"We know from well-established research and the experience of other facilities and programmes in New Zealand that what we are developing will make a tangible and measurable difference to the health of people in Hawke's Bay," Sir Graeme said.
"This could unashamedly be the best regional centre in the country for community health and sports development."
The trust has lifted the project cost from $10 million to $15m and as of yesterday had secured $8m from various sources including Hastings District Council, Brendon Smith of Pak'N Save Hastings, Sir Graeme himself and several others.
The trust also had another four million dollars promised to it, which Sir Graeme announced last night.
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said the council committed $2m this year and would hold a public consultation on putting another $2m in next year.
"It is fantastic for the region and along with revamping the CBD the sports park is definitely a priority."
Last night Sir Graeme also announced the trust's partnership with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and Ngati Kahungunu.
"We signed a memorandum of understanding with the HBDHB earlier this week to ensure that specific community health outcomes are a well-supported and continued focus for the whole project," he said.
HBDHB chairman Kevin Atkinson said they were delighted to be given the opportunity to partner the trust in this exciting development.
"Improving the health and wellbeing of our community is a key focus for us. The facilities the trust are proposing to develop will help us deliver the population health objectives we have set for the region."
Mr Atkinson said they would support collegial working relationships, provide healthcare professionals when necessary, advise on clinical, operational and strategic health matters that align with healthy weight activities.
"The research led programmes involving EIT and AUT Millennium to deliver changes to the health and wellbeing of our community will be significant."
Ngati Kahungunu member of the asset board Taine Randall said they wanted to support health and wellbeing and encourage excellence in sport.
"We support it all and we are in discussions at the moment of what we can do to help the trust."
AUT Millennium chief executive officer Mike Stanley said the partnership with Hawke's Bay was a wonderful idea.
"It is a powerful idea and great to have something like this outside of Auckland," Mr Stanley said.
With their fundraising well under way Sir Graeme hopes to start the development of stage one in the middle of next year.