Kaikohe basketball fans came out in droves for the opening of new public basketball court 'The Hub' at Memorial Park on Saturday.
About 80 people of all ages packed out the new venue as Northland youth charity Mai Lyfe ran a well-attended 3x3 basketball tournament to christen the court.
The project was first discussed in December of 2017 when a Kaikohe youth basketball team travelled to Auckland to play a curtain-raiser for the New Zealand Breakers. On the way down, the team stopped to train on an outdoor court in Albany, which sparked the idea to build one in Kaikohe.
By April 2018, an online petition to erect a court had gained 1000 signatures in four days, and was then presented to the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board. With help from the Kaikohe Community and Youth Centre Trust, Far North District Council, Sport Northland and others, the project was completed.
"After two years, we finally made it," project co-manager Renee Reilly said.
"The most satisfying part is the use of it, there's never really a full hour when there's not somebody on it. Even at 9pm, there's 30 people on there."
Reilly said since Saturday's opening, the court had been used by many different people in the community from young children to grandparents, which had been the hope for the venue.
"It's encouraging more of a healthy-living [lifestyle] and whānau participation and by offering it as a free venue, the idea was that if one person picks up a ball, you're not going to just sit and watch."
Unfortunately, the court had already been defaced by graffiti and bike tracks. Reilly encouraged anyone who saw such activity to ring the police.
"The court belongs to everybody, it's the community's, it's Northland's, it's the Far North's and if we aren't going to look after it and respect it, who will?"
The new court was part one in a three-step plan to upgrade the park which would see a new toilet block added, a barbeque area, and new play areas and equipment.
Reilly said she hoped to see similar venues erected in the next five years in other communities which had expressed their interest, including One Tree Point, Whangārei, Opononi and Kaitaia.
"That is the hope, that courts pop up because there's definitely a need."