An Olympic-sized pool will be the centrepiece of a regional aquatic centre in Hawke’s Bay which has won government support through a new infrastructure fund.

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash say up to $32 million has been approved in principle for the project, which was one of the ‘shovel-ready’ proposals put forward by local councils, iwi, and community groups.

“The Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre will play a big part in the economic recovery of the region,” said Grant Robertson.

“It is just the sort of project that our COVID Response and Recovery Fund is designed for. The Aquatic Centre meets both social and economic objectives as we recover from the impact of COVID19.

“It will house a deep-water Olympic pool that is 51.5 metres long and a smaller ‘learn to swim’ and water safety education pool. It will be able to host regional and international competitive events that will contribute greatly to visitor spend.

“Improved recreational water facilities are much-needed by residents of Hawke’s Bay. I’m particularly pleased the new Aquatic Centre will enable primary schoolchildren to take part in learn-to-swim and water safety classes. Only one-fifth of year 8 students can swim.

“The health and wellbeing of the wider region, from Wairoa to Waipukurau, is also important. The new Aquatic Centre will be used by swimming clubs, a water polo club and the Royston Hospital Health & Fitness Gym at the EIT Institute. The Hawke’s Bay DHB will also use it for exercise and therapy such as aquarobics courses,” said Mr Robertson.

“The Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatic Centre is expected to directly generate around 166 jobs and support hundreds of others,” said Stuart Nash.

“Small businesses and contractors in the construction industry and services sector now have greater certainty about the pipeline of projects in the region. It is part of a wider sports, health and fitness complex which includes a hostel to support youth in trades training.

“The hostel has already been supported with government funding of $5 million through the Provincial Growth Fund. Trades training and job readiness courses are in demand from workers and businesses in the region.

“I pay tribute to local councils, iwi, and community backers like Sir Graeme Avery who have been pivotal in getting this project underway,” Mr Nash said.

All approvals are in principle and subject to contract negotiations. Investment values are also subject to change.

Editor notes

The $50 billion COVID Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) was set out in Budget 2020. It earmarked $3 billion for infrastructure projects.

The government established the Infrastructure Reference Group (IRG) to work with local councils and businesses to identify a pipeline of projects to support the economy during the COVID-19 rebuild. Cabinet then decided the key sectors and regional breakdown of funds with more than 150 projects worth $2.6 billion being approved in principal.

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