Team sport is a big thing again. And I'm not just talking about the kids' school fixtures where I've stood on the muddy sidelines recently, or the Magpies getting ready for their season starting in September.

I'm thinking #Teamof175thousand, a very important subset of #Teamof5Million. Hawke's Bay region, you do great things when you work together.

Team Hawke's Bay has been on show this week. Forgive the dad joke, but you have made a real splash. Our new regional aquatic centre is definitely a 'game changer' for the region, to coin Sir Graeme Avery's phrase.

The Government was delighted to swing in behind Sir Graeme's vision, to the tune of $32 million in special Covid infrastructure funding. The aquatic centre will play a big part in the economic recovery of our region, and also benefit our social and recreational needs.


When it opens in mid-2022, it will play host to major regional, national and possibly international sports events. These competitive events will contribute greatly to visitor spend, and be a shot in the arm for our hospitality, accommodation and retail sectors.

It will add to the multi-sport indoor training facilities for netball, basketball, volleyball, and badminton, and outdoor sports like athletics, hockey, netball, canoe polo, rugby league and football facilities at Mitre 10 Park. This multi-sport facility will make the park unrivalled in New Zealand as a world-class fitness, training, competition and major events venue.

And it will also be a real treasure for those who aren't the fastest, strongest or most athletic in our community.

Up to a certain age, swimming is not a sport, it's a life skill. Some schools have closed their own pools because of the cost of maintenance. The aquatic centre will be available for school sports and competition events, along with water competency education and community health lap swimming and aqua aerobics classes. It is also expected to be used by Hawke's Bay District Health Board for those trying to overcome obesity and take fitness classes as therapy.

This project was only possible because all of the region's leaders put aside traditional boundaries to work together. The mayors and leaders of councils in Napier, Hastings, and the region were all present for my announcement alongside Sir Graeme last weekend.

Sir Graeme's tenacity and vision is infectious, long may it last.

While the aquatic centre will be a major drawcard for sports and competitive events, we know we have to spread the net wide to ensure Hawke's Bay Tourism's 'Baycation' promotion keeps up momentum. Forget international cruise ships for the near future. The domestic tourism market is what is fuelling our economic recovery.

I've talked to Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis about the great work our tourism organisations are doing. He has now approved $700,000 for Hawke's Bay and $400,000 for the Tairawhiti tourism promotion agencies.


Destination management and planning is really important for Hawke's Bay. I've always been hugely enthusiastic for events like concerts at the Mission, and the Art Deco Weekend. I know these two events have a great future. Watch this space.

I pay tribute to local councils, iwi, and community backers who have played a part in getting this government funding approved. We are a great team when we work together.

Stuart Nash is the MP for Napier and Minister of Police