White-water plan afloat in Manukau

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

A $60 million white-water kayak facility, similar to that used in the Beijing Olympics, is being planned in Manukau City.

If it is built, it will be open to the public.

The Counties Manukau Trust has been planning the project for seven years, and is awaiting funding and support from the Manukau City Council before work on it can begin.

If approved, a two-track course - one 380m circuit for adults and professional athletes and a smoother inside track for children - will be built behind the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre.

TelstraClear Pacific chief executive Richard Jeffery says building the facility would put Manukau City and New Zealand on the map.

"It'll attract international interest and we'll get a lot of athletes coming down to New Zealand to train."

Mr Jeffery said the facility would be only the second of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The other is the Penrith Whitewater Stadium, built for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

The facility will also include a cultural attraction exhibition in association with Tamaki Heritage Tours.

A whare in the centre of the course would feature cultural performances by children, and an interactive exhibition would show the journey of the Polynesian people to Aotearoa.

Mr Jeffery said the project stemmed from the Counties Manukau Trust's wish to make Manukau City a tourist attraction.

"Manukau's got to step up to the plate to give something for the kids - for them to be proud of their city."

A Pacific gallery featuring local artists' work and an educational initiative linking schools to the facility would mean great opportunity for local children, Mr Jeffery said.

"All that ... with the track - it'll really put Manukau on the map."

The decision on whether to build the facility will be made in July. If it is approved, construction will start in October, and the facility will be ready in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

- NZ Herald

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