GOLOCAL

Amidst the stormy weather, the rain cleared in time for the opening of the Ōhaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre on Sunday afternoon.

This multi-purpose building will also be known as the Ōhaupō Hub, a place for the community to gather.

"We don't want this place to sit here and look shiny. We want it to be used," said Ōhaupō Rugby and Sports Club president and community centre trustee David Kite.

The event was mainly held inside due to the weather but it was well supported by the community, with a large crowd attending.

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Waipā District Council's iwi relations adviser, Shane Te Ruki, said a karakia to bless the centre for its opening and for the future.

The cake celebrating the Ōhaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre. The rugby club and the community have combined to create the Ōhaupō Hub.
The cake celebrating the Ōhaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre. The rugby club and the community have combined to create the Ōhaupō Hub.

This was followed by the recognition of the many people who helped make the project possible.

Bev and Chris Gatenby were honoured with an award gifted by Waipā District Mayor Jim Mylchreest.

Both have put a lot of time and work into the centre. Chris was the project manager throughout the build, while Bev is a trustee of the centre.

The main events hall was named the Gatenby Room in honour of the hard work the couple have put into the project.

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Alongside Bev Gatenby and David Kite, the trustees of the Ohaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre Trust are Deborah Holmes, Debbie Glasson, Campbell Thomas and chairwoman Liz Stolwyk.

Although it was done inside, the mayor cut the ribbon to open the centre before everyone rallied outside for Shane Te Ruki to say a karakia over the clubrooms area.

"We were delighted with such a great turnout, Ōhaupō residents packed our new Ōhaupō Hub to overflowing where we were able to thank all our valued funders and supporters," said Liz Stolwyk, chairwoman of the Ōhaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre and Waipā District Deputy Mayor.

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"Ōhaupō is a small community but with great heart. Our opening was an excellent example of all our community groups all gathering to celebrate a new facility with a good old-fashioned sausage sizzle and home-baked cakes! "

Alongside many other volunteers, the Ōhaupō/ Ngāhinapōuri Lions Club turned up to show their support and man the barbecue to feed the crowd.

Ōhaupō/Ngahinapouri Lions Club members Geoff Orchard, left, and Steve Canton helped to feed the community at the opening of the new Ōhaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre.
Ōhaupō/Ngahinapouri Lions Club members Geoff Orchard, left, and Steve Canton helped to feed the community at the opening of the new Ōhaupō Community, Sport and Recreation Centre.

Sport Waikato's chief executive Matthew Cooper attended the event and was impressed by the community spirit.

"It was heartening to see the young generations of 'Ōhaupōians' there at Sunday's opening because this is about them and their children," said Matthew.

"It takes courage as we are challenging tradition and the historic way of how we have always done things. I commend these local Ōhaupō sports clubs, you have risen above the importance of recognising tradition, which we will always have regardless of new infrastructure, to now focus in on relevance and sustainability for the future."

Matthew commended the fact the Ōhaupō Hub will be an asset to many other surrounding communities as well as Ōhaupō.

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"This is an outstanding model of the 'hub' concept and really is a graphic illustration of the future," he said.

"It's a fantastic community facility that provides opportunity and will provide for more communities than just the Ōhaupō community."

The centre was originally set to open in March but was delayed by Covid-19.