As doctors who have worked in Kaitaia for some years now, we wholeheartedly support the funding and planned building of the Te Hiku Sports Hub. It is a worthy and mammoth project, planned to look to future needs of our growing community for many years to come.

It has been thoroughly researched and planned, and the funding has been sought for the project through concerted efforts by a few dedicated individuals on the Sports Hub planning committee over the past five years.

Site planning has been approved, and considerable work from professional road and site engineers has proceeded to prepare the site for building. With support from the Far North District Council, and support from the ratepayers of the Far North ward, the way is open towards Kaitaia having a wonderful new 21st century year-round heated swimming pool and sports centre within easy access for old and young alike.

Many of us haven't been able to dedicate time to do all the work required researching the project, inviting expert advice from managers of similar projects in Australasia, preparing funding applications, and writing applications for resource consent. We would like to express our gratitude to all those volunteers on the Sports Hub committee who have dedicated their free time to work on this worthy project.

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There have been numerous public meetings and consultations to work through the process of developing a high-quality community sports and recreation complex.

The committee has had to meet many council requirements, and the application for funding has been arduous and difficult to negotiate.

The committee has had to go back and forth many times to ensure that every step of the process is thoroughly researched to ensure that the funding would be made available. They have done a sterling job.

On a daily basis we see people who would benefit from the Te Hiku Sports Hub. For those of us with osteoarthritis and back pain, swimming in a heated pool would be a boon. Those of us who are overweight, recovering from strokes, and who have cardiovascular disease — we would all benefit.

There is truth in the old adage, 'Prevention is better than cure.' We see people of all ages and sizes who lead sedentary lifestyles, and who would benefit from the year-round physical activity one could access in a new sports hub. Te Hiku Sports Hub could provide an accessible, positive environment for helping to create improved health outcomes in our community.

The Sports Hub is planning a particular focus on engaging people with special needs, pregnant woman and mums with babies, children and seniors.

Increased social engagement in a variety of sports and recreation activities, offered in a healthy, safe, alcohol/drug/smoke and violence-free environment will help to improve social cohesion, and help to improve health and social outcomes, particularly among our young people.

Te Hiku Sports Hub would provide Kaitaia and surrounding area with an excellent venue for after school, weekend and holiday programmes. This could involve providing healthy, safe sports and recreation activities, engaging young people outside of school time, in an adult-supervised environment. There could be scope for mentoring at-risk youth within these programmes.

Such programmes in communities with facilities such as we are hoping to have in Kaitaia have demonstrably reduced youth crime in the United States and Europe.

Te Hiku Sports Hub will be beneficial for our senior citizens by providing a variety of accessible, enjoyable ways to maintain and improve mobility. Dedicated senior programmes on land and in warm water, with group classes offering tai chi and hydrotherapy movement can be offered.

These would provide opportunities to socialise as well as exercise, and thus help to address the common problem of loneliness in single seniors.

There would be opportunities for providing water-based rehabilitation treatment for those suffering from strokes, recovering from knee and hip surgery, shoulder surgery and heart attacks.

People with Parkinson's disease and osteoarthritis would also benefit greatly from therapy provided in the proposed hydrotherapy pool.

There is enormous support from the GPs in Kaitaia and the Kaitaia Hospital doctors for this project. We have all supported the project since its inception.

The doctors would be able to utilise the Green Prescription programme more effectively, knowing there is a heated swimming pool accessible with a hydrotherapy pool attached.
A year-round heated pool would make it easier for our school children to be taught basic safety in the water at all times of year, given swimming lessons year round, and possibly reduce our tragic drowning rates in Northland.

We, and our many medical colleagues in the Kaitaia district, give our support to the Te Hiku Sports Hub project. Such a complex would contribute enormously to the future well-being of our multicultural, socio-economically challenged community, young and old alike.

We realise that multiple funding sources are necessary to achieve completion of a development of this scale, and we hope that it will soon be funded, to enable the entire facility to be constructed and operable, as soon as possible.

Dr JOHN BRADLEY
Dr JOOST VAN RENS
Kaitaia