A decades-long dream of a multi-code indoor sports complex for Kaikohe is finally set to become reality after a $6.25 million government grant.
There was jubilation and even tears at Lindvart Park yesterday as Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement to a crowd of about 300 people.
The cash will come from the Government's Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund, with the Far North District Council and other sources expected to cover the balance of the $9.2m project.
Twenty-five sporting codes will be catered for in the new complex which will include a new pavilion with two full-sized indoor courts, new roads and parking.
An emotional Cheryl Waaka-Smith, a former world champion Black Fern and now Sport Northland community connector, said in two to three years' time Kaikohe youth would have a world-class gym and the pathway she had followed to represent New Zealand would be open to all.
''I can't be happier to know that when I get older I'll be able to walk into a facility and see our rangitahi perform to the best of their ability, and they won't have to leave the Mid North to achieve their goals.''
Kaikohe's Lindvart Park was originally developed in 1983 with the Far North's only artificial hockey turf added in 2010. The rest of the complex is, however, outdated and overcrowded, with locals dreaming of a combined sporting hub for the past 20 years.
Friday's event was MC'd by district councillor John Vujcich, who said the year 2020 had brought three unexpected things — a severe drought, a global pandemic, and a Government that supported the provinces.
''That hasn't happened in I don't know how long ... I never thought I'd be standing on this podium and looking at a dream coming true.''
With an average age of 28 Kaikohe was the most youthful town in Northland, if not New Zealand.
''The youth are our future. Investing here is investing in our future,'' Vujcich said.
Among those who will benefit are 16-year-old Reiata Phillips-Heihei, who plays halfback and wing for Kaikohe Women's Rugby.
Her team trained three times a week but sessions had to be cancelled in heavy rain.
''So we'll be able to carry on training in any kind of weather. It will also give other sports teams a reason to come to Kaikohe, so it means a lot.''
Taal Smith, a project subcommittee member and former professional softballer, said Friday's announcement was proof that ''magical things'' happened when people worked together.
''In a survey 10 years ago Kaikohe people said they wanted an indoor sports facility. Since then we've been moving ever so slowly towards it.''
Many years ago a council official had told him Kaikohe didn't get much because people didn't stick consistently to a cause or believe things really could happen.
''There's a lesson in that — to believe in ourselves, we are worthy. The more we believe in ourselves the further we'll go.''
Construction is expected to create 35 jobs.