Two Napier City councillors have found traction with a ratepayer in suggesting a rethink is crucial before diving into a multi-million-dollar aquatic centre proposal.

Kirsten Wise and Richard McGrath believe committing to up to $41 million may be adventurous although they are disappointed they won't have the opportunity to double debate the matter before adopting the Long Term Plan (2018-2028) at the extraordinary full council meeting tomorrow from 3pm.

"David's submission to the LTP process was very compelling and he presented us with some very useful information," says Wise.

Kamper, who also is the Napier Aquahawks Swim Club media relations officer, has urged the council to revisit its commitment, after making his submission to the council's two-day draft LTP hearing a fortnight ago.


The 52-year-old computer software sales manager is in favour of building a complex but feels the council had not investigated other options that can provide a bigger and better water space for the community as well as trim the expenditure by almost half.

Kamper says the council's plan to adopt wholesale the QEII design intended for Christchurch is myopic because the southerners have a different demography and are in the throes of rebuilding a "broken city", following the February 2011 earthquake.

Wise says she initially favoured the greenfields site on the corner of Tamatea and Prebensen Drives over the existing venue at the Onekawa pool.

However, on reflection, after sifting through some submissions and removing herself from the tedious deliberation process, she has reached a different conclusion.

"I'm now very much of the opinion that we don't have enough information to make decision on either site."

Wise says the split between the two options was marginal — around 51 per cent to 49 — but on hearing Kamper's views she has discovered there are valid arguments for both proposed sites.

"I feel we haven't done enough due diligence at this stage to make a decision on either site, although we all know we need to make and enhance the aquatic facility and that we need it as quickly as possible."

She says it's imperative to ensure the site is ideal and the design will be compatible with what suits the Napier community's requirements.


The original vote at the LTP meeting was 7-5 among councillors, some of who were swayed at the 11th hour, are probably feeling the way Wise and McGrath are now.

"That's what makes me feel that perhaps we need to take a step back and take stock and reassess ... what the community really wants."

Wise says while double debating is out it has been impressed on them that it can become a costly exercise to make major amendments although she doesn't foresee that as a problem considering the amount of money proposed for the project.

"It's a small price to pay if we end up spending only $20 million to get the right pool complex for our community so it's a bit of a no brainer for me."

She says Greendale Swim Club requires $400,000 through its fundraising to reopen so that should negate the need to take a short cut into making a decision on the aquatic centre proposal by six months.

"I'm not going to be pressured into making a decision quickly ... because I don't think the community is putting that amount of pressure on us."

While new ideas cannot be introduced, they cannot stop people making suggestions although it is essential decisions are made for the right reasons and are beneficial to the community.

She suspects the community has also been struggling because of the lack of clarity between the two options.

McGrath says the U-turn on double debating means "we can make a lot of noise but we can't change the recommendations".

"You either keep the long-term plan or reject it."

However, he echoes Wise's sentiments that councillors will be able to make changes down the track.

McGrath, who lives a stone's throw away from the Onekawa site, has done some investigation which suggests there won't be enough water space in the QEII design the council hopes to adopt.

The 47-year-old, an "at large" councillor since 2014, was part of the now defunct aquatic strategy committee when four options were mooted for the Onekawa site.

Part of the solution, he believes, is not to move it from Onekawa and retain the 20-year-old Ivan Wilson Pool recently revamped for $284,000.

"Swimming pools have a lifespan of 50 years although the plants need upgrading every 15 years or so, and it probably needs that but one plant is all we need and it's not a big deal."

He says with no pool seating in the QEII design it becomes difficult to see how something like a school swim meeting can be staged or where a learn-to-swim session can become tight.

McGrath says Mosgiel, a township on the outskirts of Dunedin, had informed them an aquatic centre of that dimension can be built for almost half the sum.

"We don't need the world's most expensive walls. We don't need the world's most expensive flooring. What we need is more water space."

The projected space needs to accommodate lane space for the elderly (hydrotherapy) and the other group is the young.

"If you look at the QEII option in Christchurch, one of the first things they're saying is that there's nothing for young people to do at the pools."

He says it caters for the very young but not for older children who want to engage in bombs and rope swings.

David Kamper, outside the Napier Aquatic Centre in Onekawa, brought attention to how Napier City Council needs to revisit its adoption of the QEII plan in Christchurch. Photo/file
David Kamper, outside the Napier Aquatic Centre in Onekawa, brought attention to how Napier City Council needs to revisit its adoption of the QEII plan in Christchurch. Photo/file

McGrath says Kamper has been "the man on the spot with the [Aquahawks] club" and has a sobering grasp on what a community requires on the different aspects of an aquatic centre.

He sees a niche for a "leisure facility" because there is no other complex that offers "fun water" for indoor recreation in winter.

"This is an opportunity for us to add this in a big way with Splash Planet [in Hastings] closed for seven months of the year."

McGrath backs the Onekawa site, which also offers gymnastics, netball and tennis. That means more people will go through the aquatic centre doors.

Sport NZ, he says, reckons the Bay doesn't need a 50m pool but Sir Graeme Avery's high-performance bid will certainly complement the Napier centre.

"We probably don't need two 50m pools but we need to work out what our water need is and go from there."

McGrath says the council has been kept out of the loop a little and nothing has been presented to it comparing different locations.

A "fifth option", which the council is tabling now, came out of the blues at the expense of the original four options.

"There's been no feasibility studies, no business case on this option on the location or the design."

He says the Onekawa option has five low decile schools where pupils can walk to it safely.

A consultation document, which had proposed a "bomb pad, two spa pools and a lazy river", was subjected to chops and changes.

"I don't think we've had full information so we need to back up the truck a little," he says because it's the biggest project the council will embark on.

McGrath says an aquatic centre can become "the heart of a city" so no economic study has been done to see what impact it'll have if the Onekawa one is closed.