A near-centenarian - who as a child almost drowned in a Northland school pool now needing urgent repairs costing more than $277,000 - has donated to the cause.

Doreen, who did not want her surname used, was a pupil of Whangārei Primary School in 1925, and drove to the school after reading an article in the Northern Advocate last week on the pool repair campaign and handed over a sum of money to principal Martin Rijswijk. She will turn 100 in four months.

Doreen, flanked by students of Whangārei Primary School, has responded to the school's call for help to repair its swimming pool. Photo/Supplied
Doreen, flanked by students of Whangārei Primary School, has responded to the school's call for help to repair its swimming pool. Photo/Supplied

"Doreen clearly remembers the pool when she was a child, and told a story of how she almost drowned in it. She had struggled to complete a length of the pool and the headmaster had to reach out and save her," Rijswijk said.

He said another ex-pupil from the 1940s donated $5000 last week.

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The school needs nearly $200,000 to replace the entire pool pump, filter and plumbing systems, upgrade electrical wiring, and install a new vacuum system.

An additional $77,500 is needed to upgrade changing facilities and for other work.

The school received $1905 from 26 donors on its Givealittle page as of yesterday.

"It's a positive start and we definitely need a lot more help from the community," Rijswijk said.

Ministry of Education's head of infrastructure service, Kim Shannon, said WPS board was engaging with the ministry on how to use its current funds to upgrade the pool.

She said the process of possible changes to the school's property plan was being worked through.

Boards of Trustees, she said, could chose to have a new and replacement swimming pool on their school site but they needed to fundraise for it, including in some cases partnering with councils or other organisations.

The ministry provides funding that can be used for minor upgrading when agreed as part of the school's five-year funding agreement.

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Funding is also available in a school's operations grant to either access council or private pools, or alternatively to cover the day to day running costs of a school pool.

Shannon said reprioritisation of funding involved gaining the ministry's agreement which was the process currently being undertaken by WPS.

"All other schools are welcome to approach their property adviser should they want to consider reprioritising their agreed five-year capital projects."

Built in 1925, it was originally a public pool before ownership was passed to the school around the 1970s or 1980s.

A new pump and filter systems were installed in 1965 and despite regular maintenance the facility has reached a point where it's beyond repair. The 33m pool has not been used since last November.