A community health and sports centre aimed at improving the lives of locals, from school children to retirees, will be developed at the Regional Sports Park. The project, spearheaded by Sir Graeme Avery, is being couched as "transformational" for the
region. Hawke's Bay Today investigates the far-reaching impact it will have.

AN OLYMPIC-SIZED swimming pool, lifelong health-monitoring programmes, and new partnerships are among the progress made on the Hawke's Bay Community Health and Sports Centre - only four months since it was officially announced.

Heralded as "transformational for the region," the facility at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park would benefit both the community and top athletes, through a range of health and wellbeing programmes, and development of youth sports talent.

Targeted for completion mid 2018, the sports park would be developed into a multiple-sport training, community health and wellbeing facility. The first stage of its development includes a large recreation and sports hall, a community health and fitness gym, health tutorial rooms, strength conditioning gym, tenanted offices, sport science and sport medicine facilities, a café and an accommodation lodge.

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A partner of the new facility would be AUT Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, a multisport environment with world class facilities and assets of $85 million.

The chair of its board, Sileni Estate owner Sir Graeme Avery, would chair Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust, established to govern the successful operation of this organisation.

Plans for the complex now include an aquatic centre.

"There's an acute shortage of water space across the region and Hastings is no exception," Sir Graeme said.

As well as addressing the need in Hastings, the benefits of having an Olympic-sized pool which could be used for recreational swimming and competitions would be region-wide.
The facility will be used to help schools and local sports groups improve their sports capability, and give them a model sport training facility which will lead to better performance results.

However, while physically located in between the twin cities, the "bricks and mortar" facility was only the base for what AUT Millennium Hawke's Bay would achieve.

Of the estimated 240,000 users of the facility in its first year, it is thought 85 per cent of those would relate to the research-led programmes that will be delivered on site and throughout Hawke's Bay, including healthy eating, physical literacy and community sports participation programmes for schools throughout the region.

Sir Graeme said these programmes would have inter-generational benefits, and would "be transformational over time for the local residents".

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The centre will be the headquarters from which the different research-led programmes would be delivered throughout the region, targeting the population from pre-school children, through all schooling stages, to senior citizens.

All in Hawke's Bay would benefit from the collaboration between the centre's partners, which would blend the knowledge acquired from the AUT Millennium Institute in Auckland, and AUT University, with local knowledge from EIT, Sport Hawke's Bay, and Hawke's Bay Sports Events & Education Consortium.

Schools, gyms and recreation centres across the region would host staff certified to deliver AUT Millennium programmes, which aim to help people of all ages and levels reach their potential to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

The same programmes would be delivered at satellite facilities in Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay - with Sir Graeme saying they had received very positive responses from their residents so far.

It is expected to take between 12 and 18 months to develop the content of the programmes, with a start made later this year. With an aim for the facility to be finished in the last quarter of 2018, by the start of 2019 it is hoped everything will be up and running.

Following programmes announced in June, the Trust recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board to develop world-leading and even world-first research-led programmes.

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As well as basing them off the best evidence from the centre's collaborative partners, international research would be harnessed to develop a health programme that will start from conception.

The lifelong monitoring programme - which would follow a user from conception through primary school, and into adult life - would be invaluable in the fight against obesity.

"International research has clearly shown that you really have to get to these children ideally before they're five and that's why we want to start from conception," Sir Graeme said.

Running underneath the specialised monitoring programme would be a more general programme, delivered to preschool and primary schoolchildren - focusing on healthy eating, healthy cooking, healthy food shopping, and active recreation.

With the critical age between five and eight years old to prevent obesity, Sir Graeme said the success of these programmes would be measured on reducing the very high prevalence rates of obesity and physical inactivity in Hawke's Bay.

In parallel with these programmes would be a group who managed the social environment around the family, to help them understand the benefit the programmes would have for their children's future health, and how they could adopt some more positive lifestyle behaviour in their everyday lives.

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"While a lot of things are happening in Hawke's Bay in this area its very fragmented and it's not co-ordinated, so the partnership with the DHB is to bring about that co-ordination, a multifaceted integrated attack on what is the obesity epidemic globally," he said.

" I don't expect we'll get any results for 10 or maybe 20 years. It'll take that long until it brings about that inter-generational change in behaviours."

There would also be workplace health programmes developed.

By the end of November it was hoped there would be a portacom and temporary gym at the Sports Park, to be used as a base for some pilot programmes.

When it is completed some users of the centre - including school participants, and users of the Health and Fitness Gym - would also have health screens which would provide monitoring throughout the duration of a programme so people could see how they were improving.


As the centre will benefit the community region-wide, it will be a "whole community effort" to get the centre completed - with Ngati Kahungunu the most recent group to join the cohort behind it. Sir Graeme said they felt the project would be very important to the health of their people.

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With a capital fundraising campaign launched earlier this week, it is hoped construction on the facility would begin around May next year.

Having more than half the $15million needed to complete the first stage of the development already contributed by a range of public, and private organisations, showed the phenomenal support behind the project, he said.


Since starting the project, he said they had moved on so much with the strength of interest of the local community that although AUT Millennium would remain an important partner, discussions were being held with other parties for overall naming rights of the facility - currently being called Hawkes bay Community Health and Sports Centre.
Sir Graeme and his wife had also contributed to the target of the first stage. As well as noting that regional New Zealand lacked the types of facilities and programmes which bigger cities sometimes took for granted, he and his wife had wanted to make a contribution to the place they now call home.

"We wanted to make a contribution to the community here, and the leadership gift sort of acts as a basis for doing that," he said. " And our grandchildren live here so its a kind of a legacy that they will benefit from."

"I still see the unrealised potential that exists here."