An indoor pool threatened with closure has re-opened with a new name and a new lease of life after a massive community effort to repair and revamp it.
Two years ago a report commissioned by the Far North District Council and Sport Northland proposed closing down Kawakawa's run-down public pool and building a new facility in Kerikeri instead.
That was the catalyst the Kawakawa community needed to rally behind the pool - the only indoor heated pool in the Mid North - and spend thousands of volunteer hours bringing it back up to scratch.
It was formally re-opened on Sunday as Te Papawai Community Pool by Mayor John Carter.
Kawakawa resident Richard Duley, the driving force behind the project, said it was a "complete makeover".
"The big buzz for me was watching people's faces as they walked in and saw all the art on the walls. It was cool."
The proposal to close the pool was the catalyst for the project, Mr Duley said. When Mr Carter was voted in as mayor he asked the people of Kawakawa what they would do to keep it open, and they responded to the challenge. It was now "very unlikely" the pool would be closed down in future.
"It shows how a positive can come out of a negative," he said.
The restoration effort included replacing the guttering, clear roof panels and changing room roof; installing ventilators; repainting the roof and walls; decorating the facility inside and out with murals and art panels (including a pair of stingrays on the bottom of the pool); tidying up the grounds; and erecting a carved gateway.
The many volunteers included students from Bay of Islands College, Waikare and Kawakawa Primary Schools, who contributed artwork; Corrections workers, who helped with repairs and painting; and inmates on Ngawha Prison's arts and carving course, who made panels and a mural based on Okahu Channel in the Bay of Islands.
The project had been supported by the council, community board, ASB Trust and the business association.
Mr Duley said the volunteers were now planning a breather. Their next project would be to develop a family picnic area.
The pool is on Ministry of Education land but was originally owned by a community trust. When the trust folded, management passed to the college though it was not funded for a pool. The council stepped in to pay running costs but maintenance stopped and the pool fell into disrepair.
The new name translates as 'The Rock Pool' but is also a play on the name of the national museum Te Papa, which is also known as 'Our Place'.
Sunday's opening celebrations included a mayoral swimming challenge across the width of the pool. Mr Duley said Mr Carter failed to win despite getting off to an early start.