After months of penny counting and stress, the Pāpāmoa Surf Life Saving Club received good news yesterday.Community and voluntary sector minister Poto Williams announced six shovel-ready projects which will build Surf Life Saving New Zealand's infrastructure facilities in Tauranga, the Coromandel Peninsula and Port Waikato.
The Pāpāmoa club will receive $800,000 which will cover the rest of its $5.2 million rebuild.
There was also $2,890,000 allocated to building a new Eastern Region Rescue Centre, where Surf Life Saving New Zealand's Eastern staff will be based, at Mount Maunganui Beach, near the Omanu Surf Life Saving Club.
Pāpāmoa Surf Life Saving Club president Andrew Hitchfield said he and the club were "absolutely thrilled" about the news.
In March, the Bay of Plenty Times reported the cost of the club's rebuild was increasing faster than donations had been received, leaving it $700,000 short. A loss of fundraising opportunities and potential grants due to Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown placed the project under further financial stress.
"It's fantastic news," Hitchfield said.
"It means the stress that we've had as we've moved through Covid with increasing costs and delays with the build is alleviated somewhat. We can absolutely focus on the completion of the build programme now."
He said the loss of community fundraising opportunities and sponsorship through lockdown had hit the club hard. The original club house was built in 1990 for 100 members but the club now has more than 800.
"The project had been delayed about a month and a half at this stage. $800,000 pretty much gets us to the end of the build - we have a little bit of fundraising to do around the fit-out - but we'll have a fit for purpose surf life saving facility, and community facility, in Pāpāmoa.
"[Being fit for purpose] is absolutely critical. We patrol about 16km of beach and to be able to activate the team in an emergency requires everything to be in place and up and running. For us to be able to do our job in the community and save lives, we do need for everything to be ship-shape.
"We're stoked that surf life saving has been recognised as a really important part of the community. We're pretty much run by a group of volunteers and now we have the support to ensure we have the right infrastructure."
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said he was thrilled to see what Hitchfield and his team had achieved.
"Congratulations to all involved."
He said it was great the Government had recognised the impact the funding could have.
"We have a world-class surf beach in Tauranga Moana. I am grateful to the Government for recognising the impact of this to the community and to tourism and to who we are."
Surf Life Saving New Zealand chief executive officer Paul Dalton said the new $2,890,000 Eastern Region Rescue Centre at Mount Maunganui Beach was a project that had been "around for quite some time". The funding received ensured the project would come to fruition.
"It involves the Omanu club, using some nearby land for them for an increased storage facility and it will be a regional office and hub for Surf Life Saving New Zealand itself.
"It's obviously a great location beach-wise and it's very central to all the action - it fits a number of needs for us. Our regional office support all the clubs out of there and hold a lot of central infrastructure for the region. They are currently in a commercial building near the airport."
It's a huge relief for everyone involved that they can finish those off now, without the stress of not knowing where the money was coming from.
Dalton said there was no date set for construction at this stage, as the organisation was still working with Tauranga City Council on "consents and paperwork" but he expected the funding to cover the total cost of the build.
He said a lot of clubs had projects under way which had been left "high and dry" by the loss of funding opportunities through Covid-19.
"It's a huge relief for everyone involved that they can finish those off now, without the stress of not knowing where the money was coming from.
"We're absolutely over the moon, this funding is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. It's recognition that the role we play in the community is critical and every now and then we need a hand-up to carry on."