Determined not to be left behind as world-class sporting facilities continue to come on stream at schools across the Super City, Diocesan School for Girls has followed WGHS as the second Auckland school to open a state-of-the-art blue, wet-dressed sports turf.
The facility, boasting the same surface which will be used at an Olympics for the first time in London later this year, will provide world-class training and match facilities for the school's students as well as the wider sports community.
The multi-purpose sports turf in the grounds of the all-girls, Epsom school is thought to be unique in being the world's first water-based sports facility to be built on top of a carpark.
The $12 million, two-level complex is one of the final stages of an ambitious 20-year master plan to rebuild, relocate and upgrade parts of the 109-year-old campus at Diocesan.
The "London blue" turf is the premium hockey surface in the world and can be used wet or dry for different sports, but is always wet dressed for hockey to give optimum ball speed and to minimise injuries.
Shock pads under the turf's surface along with the straight and curly fibres help balls roll faster and more smoothly. Players can see balls more easily on a blue surface which also gives better definition for photography and filming.
A 50mm, bitumen-based membrane system separates the turf from a 209-vehicle carpark, the Diocesan Shop, the School Archives and Property Team facilities on the bottom level.
The turf, which Diocesan students will use for hockey, soccer and touch rugby as well as general PE and fitness, has competition-quality night lighting, a tiered spectator gallery and three "dugouts" for home and visiting teams and officials. The complex also includes new tennis and netball courts.
Diocesan, which has produced some of New Zealand's top hockey players including current Black Sticks Katie Glynn, Sam Harrison and Ella Gunson, will make the turf available for competition hockey games for primary, intermediate and secondary students run by Auckland Hockey and College Sport.
Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae officially opened the turf complex at a ceremony attended by 300 guests including his wife, Lady Janine Mateparae, Epsom MP John Banks, Hockey New Zealand CEO Hilary Poole, Diocesan's Board of Governors chairman Andrew Peterson as well as Diocesan staff and students.
Diocesan's first XI squad played a 15-minute-a-side exhibition match against a Diocesan All Stars Team of Old Girls to celebrate the opening of the complex which is the culmination of more than five years of fundraising by the school's community.
The complex was designed by Melbourne-based architects McIldowie Partners in partnership with Auckland-based Upton Architects whose other Diocesan projects since 2004 include its world-class aquatic centre, senior common rooms and refurbishment of the sports centre.
Meanwhile, international hockey has been played for the first time on the new WGHS blue turf when the Black Sticks men played six matches against Japan winning three games, losing two and drawing one.
WGHS is the official national on ground (turf) training centre for the Black Sticks (men and women) as they prepare for the London Olympic Games.
Kings, AGS and WBHS, the big three in school cricket, have quickly hit the ground running with a two-from-two start top the new premier one-day championship.
Following their big first-up win when they dandled Avondale out for 44 after scoring 249/8 from their 50 overs, WBHS were just as emphatic in the second round.
Batting first after being sent in by St Kentigern, Westlake began circumspectly, reaching the first drinks break at 48/2.
Robbie O'Donnell then took control and went on to score 126 with his century including 11 fours and a six. It was his third 100 for the school. He received good support from Jacob Curtling (76). Matthew Ellis, 3-40 from his 10 overs was the best of the St Kentigern attack.
In reply, St Kentigern found run-scoring difficult and they were dismissed for 109 in the 42nd over as quick Manaia Harris bagged 3-9 and leg-spinner Jaycob Curtling 4-23.
It was drizzling when Kings arrived at KBHS so play was delayed an hour. Once under way, the home side struck quickly, snaring Luke Williamson when he snicked one and was taken behind the stumps. As a first-day century-maker, Williamson was a prized scalp.
Unfortunately the KBHS bowlers did not cash in, sending down too many loose deliveries as the Kings batsmen were steady rather than spectacular in building their innings.
Harrison Nash and Mark Chapman added 49 runs in good time before the partnership ended with a mid-wicket muddle which resulted in a run out.
Sam Klippel then joined his captain Chapman in the most convincing batting of the day. Chapman went on to score 64 and Sam Klippel, lower in the order, chimed in with 56. Josh Cunis celebrated a five-wicket haul cleaning up the tail as Kings failed to bat out their overs as the innings ended after 45 overs.
Shaneil Sharma looked very dangerous for Kelston early in their innings but when Mitchell Murray and Chapman came into the attack, started their spells the momentum changed. They bowled very accurately and each enjoyed early successes. Bowling straight was the winner as four wickets fell leg before and another bowled. Murray ended with 5-16 and Chapman 3-18 as Kings cruised home.
In round one, Kings, led by 126 from Williams and 116 from Chapman, beat Macleans by a massive 309 runs.
After a big first-up win over Rosmini, Sacred Heart crashed back to earth when beaten by eight wickets by AGS.
Batting first, Sacred Heart reach a paltry 102 as Shawn Hicks bagged 3-8. Hicks the bowler quickly became Hicks the batsman as he blasted an unbeaten 51 as AGS raced to 104/2.
In a game reduced to 45 overs, Avondale batted first against Macleans and scored 144/7.
The reply was not all plain sailing but in the end Macleans got home by two wickets with opener Varun Narul (40) and captain David Winn (35) the difference.
Rosmini bounced back from their first day mauling to beat MAGS by 36 runs.
Conor Ridge played the major hand in Rosmini's win scoring 92 of the home team's 205. Brett Randell continued his great bowling form of recent weeks in picking up 4-35. He and off-spinner Teja Nidamanuru (3-38) were the pick of the MAGS attack.
Rosmini then looked to their bowlers to take the wickets and they got straight to work taking early MAGS wickets with opening bowler Jake Fitzgibbon blasting out 4-37. MAGS staged a mini-revival with seam bowlers Randell and Zane Koch showing the batsmen how to do it with scores of 60 not and 36 respectively but the home team had the final say as the winnings ended at 171.
St Peters bounced back from their first round loss to hand Rangitoto their second. Batting first, St Peters with three scores in the 60s, reached a respectful 242/7 to which Rangitoto managed just 196 in reply.
Baradene and Westlake BHS have drawn first blood in the race for eights supremacy in New Zealand SS rowing with victories in the blue riband events at the 76th annual Head of the Harbour regatta - the traditional opener to the keenly-contested season.
The third-largest school regatta, after the North Island and national championships, traditionally attracts big fields with the best lining up on Lake Pupuke. More than 700 competitors were in action.
Thomas Hallwright struck a blow for the less-fancied schools with his win in the under-18 boys single sculls.
He beat Kahurangi Butler (Dilworth) Takapuna Grammar's, Michael Linehan third. The girls under-18 single scull was won by Pukekohe's Ashlee Caskie from Ludia Poole (Kings) and Rosehill's Ellen Smith.
The rivalry between AGS, WGHS, St Kentigern and Sacred Heart in boys sweep oar events has always been strong and the under-18 pairs and coxed fours did not disappoint.
The four, in particular, provided an interesting result with AGS, traditionally on the podium, missing out on the medals. WBHS won both events ahead of Macleans and Sacred Heart in the fours and AGS and St Kentigern in the pair.
Both events will be hotly-contested at the Maadi Cup regatta when the South Island crews come into the mix.
The boys under-18 coxed quadruple sculls was dominated by Kings who finished first and second ahead of TGS.
TGS were again too strong in the girls under-18 coxed quadruple sculls, but this was sprint distance racing. A better guide will come over the longer distances later in the season.
The crowd built on the embankment to almost standing room only and became more vocal as the two biggest events of the day approached.
A proud Kings College haka was performed to their eight as they pushed out on to the water and a lone bagpiper sent the St Kentigern crew out to race.
The under-18 girls eights was dominated by a strong Baradene College crew who held off WGHS and Kings to take the honours.
The under-18 boys set off at a hectic pace with several crews in the running. But in the end, WBHS came through to complete a successful day of racing. AGS were second ahead of St Kentigern.
It was the first time this season WBHS have beaten AGS - the Maadi Cup holders - and completed a clean sweep of under-18 boys sweep oar events at the regatta.
TGS were unable to complete the points hat-trick, having won the cups for both girls and overall points in the previous two years. Kings picked up their maiden points victories to claim trophies for boys and overall honours.
Pukekohe High backed up their strong performances throughout the day by taking the trophy for most points for girls.
ON THE WEB