Local pool part of Kiwi culture

By Heather McCracken

As a reporter in Auckland some years ago I wrote a story about a woman who was going around New Zealand documenting the country's swimming pools on camera.

She was taking photographs of public swimming pools up and down the islands in an effort to record a piece of our culture which was in danger of being lost.

I remember her exhibition keenly because from what seemed to be a staid subject matter - how many different ways can you photograph a pool, after all? - she had created something truly beautiful.

The swimming pools, most of which were photographed at night or early in the morning, when they were empty and calm, looked stunning and inviting.

Some were a dilapidated step back in time, while some were modern, sleek and clean. In some cases she had travelled specially to capture a pool just before it was demolished.

These swimming pools are at risk because the upkeep of a public pool is no small cost.

Communities and schools around the country have had to make tough decisions about whether they're committed to having a public swimming facility, or whether it's a "nice to have" that they can't afford.

This is certainly the case in Wairarapa, with Eketahuna just one of those towns facing the prospect of needing to upgrade or replace its local pool.

So as an ardent supporter of the need for local pools, it was heartening to hear of how the community were rallying to show they wanted and needed the pool in their town.

They had a great turnout for a relay event on Sunday, showing they keenly understand the need to use it or lose it.

A local pool is something most of us in small-town New Zealand grew up with, and Eketahuna's swimmers are setting a good example for those who hope to keep it.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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