While upgrades at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park have not started this has not stopped the team behind it delivering pilot programmes to schools around the region.

Targeted for completion mid-2018, the sports park would be developed into a multiple-sport training, community health and wellbeing facility.

Spearheaded by Sir Graeme Avery, the facility would benefit both the community and top athletes, through a range of health and wellbeing programmes, and development of youth sports talent.

Marcus Agnew - who leads Talent Development and the Pathway to Podium for the complex - said they had already started delivering physical literacy programmes to schools.


Wairoa College was one of the first to get on board with others including Havelock North High School, Lindisfarne, Taradale High School, and Central Hawke's Bay College.

"It's an exciting project unfolding," he said, "we're getting a really good buy in from the community."

The group of Wairoa students - mainly consisting of those who played rugby - were already responding well to the programme. From developing their work ethic, lifestyle, and physical training habits, the programme also was about tying in aspirational pathways, and life skills for the students.

"It's a rugby programme but it's got way more of a focus than that," he said. "It's about creating some positive pathways, and raising the bar and standard for them."

After holding one workshop in Wairoa last week, yesterday's held at the regional sports park was the second of five before the end of the year.

Just one week in, Mr Agnew said he was already able to see the progress in the students.

Receiving a new set of skills each week, it was a busy day for students yesterday - from receiving feedback on their previous workshop, learning technical skills, and discussing healthy eating and lifestyle education.

Although Wairoa college's youth co-ordinator Denise Eaglesome-Karekare could not attend yesterday's session, she had been working with Mr Agnew on the pilot.

"I'm always looking for opportunities for the kids," she said. After Mr Agnew asked the college to get involved they had begun working on a programme, "and it's been all go since then".

"The students are incredibly excited about what it can do for them, and what they can learn from these professionals," she said.

The feedback she had heard from students - including her own son - was that while they had to work incredibly hard, "they're absolutely loving it".

Mr Agnew said it was quite significant that an organisation recognised nationally, and internationally, were able to deliver in a small rural town like Wairoa.

"They're really excited about us getting up there to help them, and work with them," he said.

"We made it really clear we're here to help those who want to be helped and just be your best on the field, but more importantly off the field with all your habits and where you want to go."

"They really responded to that and appreciated us being there."

Next week students would be getting feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, with a individualised programme built around them over the next few weeks.