I was disappointed to read Acting Napier Mayor Faye White's Talking Point in Thursday's paper which continues to promote inaccurate information on the proposed aquatic centre.

I am astounded by her comment that the project has had 'input all the way from our community' when the only community involvement on the Prebensen Drive proposal has been two pages in the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan (LTP) document.

With submissions split 49-51 per cent based on inaccurate and biased information, this certainly does not meet my definition of 'input all the way' and absolutely does not provide a mandate for council to proceed with its largest capital spend at a cost at least $41.3m.

She states 'ensuring our children can learn to swim is a compelling reason why delays cannot continue' however fails to mention that the Taradale Community Pool will be re-opening early next year and council is likely to take over management of the Ocean Spa complex.


These are two aquatic facilities which will provide ample opportunity to add extra swimming classes to those already provided at the Onekawa Pool.

Once again the contamination risk is provided as one of the main reasons for the sudden change in location after two years of consultation on the options at the Onekawa site.

Historical reports commissioned by council are very clear that the contamination risk on this site is minimal, which surely is supported by the fact that council has issued resource consents in recent years for further development on the site including the Plunket build.

Speaking of which, claiming that there is some sort of risk in respect to the Plunket and kindergarten which are located next to the Onekawa Pool is quite frankly, in my opinion, scaremongering.

One must also ask why is this 'risk' constrained to the block the pool is located on, no mention is made of the residential properties located across the road which would also surely be at 'risk' if there were any real concerns.

The scaremongering becomes even more apparent when you consider that the pool proposed for Prebensen Drive will be built above ground level and that very little excavation is needed.

Surely this same pool design could be used at Onekawa? And we are being told the Onekawa pool will have to be closed for the 18 to 20 month construction period, this is in contradiction to the LTP document which states access would be limited during construction.

Historical business cases prepared for the redevelopment of the Onekawa site never stated that the centre would be completely closed during construction so what has changed?

The new aquatic facility will provide us with more lane space, a 'floating floor' and "gold standard" accessibility for people with physical challenges.


There is no reason why a redevelopment at the Onekawa site cannot provide us with all of these and more.

Although, before these decisions are made, it again comes back to asking our community what it is they need as key stakeholders and members of the swimming community have raised concerns about the proposed Prebensen Drive design.

Accessibility for the whole community is also a concern which is often raised in relation to the proposed new site.

The Onekawa site is closer to three of our city's four wards including some of its most deprived residential areas. The closest adjoining suburbs contain our city's most affordable housing which of course attracts our younger families buying their first home.

Google maps clearly shows that the Onekawa site is far more central and within walking distance of more schools.

No socio/economic report has been prepared on how the Onekawa closure will affect these schools within walking distance of the facility.

Neither has such a report been prepared on how the closure will affect the adjacent shopping centre and other complimentary Onekawa Park amenities.

And last but not least we cannot ignore the elephant in the room. The number one concern raised with me when I am out door knocking or talking to people in the community is water, firstly our drinking water followed closely by the state of the Ahuriri Estuary.

Which, of course, would be available to all of our community to swim free of charge if contaminants and sewage were not being discharged into it.

The acting mayor states there is budget allocated for these, however the $41.3 million dollar question is - is it enough?

The current council recently confirmed that water is its number one priority, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. Not a Vanity Project – I'm sorry but I find that hard to believe!

* Kirsten Wise is a Napier City Councillor and mayoral candidate