Squash club has had enough

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Peter de Graaf

“Frus­trated and dis­ap­pointed” Kerik­eri Squash Club mem­bers say they’ve had enough of wait­ing for progress on a new place to play more than two years af­ter fire dam­aged their clu­b­rooms.

The club has been in limbo since the Kerik­eri Do­main pavil­ion was dam­aged by ar­son in June 2016. It was orig­i­nally built by the town’s rugby and squash clubs, with rugby mov­ing to a new base next to the Her­itage By­pass in 2010.

Un­til the fire the build­ing was used by the squash club, which had two courts, chang­ing rooms and a kitchen, as well as rugby league, as a youth drop-in cen­tre and by other groups. Only squash had a fi­nan­cial stake in it.

Squash club pres­i­dent Dave Collins told a Far North Dis­trict Coun­cil meet­ing that be­fore the fire the club had 150 mem­bers, had been grow­ing fast, and needed to ex­pand.

Af­ter the blaze, when it seemed re­pair­ing the pavil­ion would not be vi­able, the club wanted to use its share of the in­sur­ance money to build a new four-court fa­cil­ity at the Kerik­eri Sports Com­plex. How­ever, in mid-2017, with the dam­age ap­par­ently not as bad as first thought, the coun­cil re­versed its de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish the pavil­ion and opted to re­build it in­stead.

The club would be able to ap­ply for con­sent to ex­pand its end.

Mr Collins said the club didn’t agree with the de­ci­sion, but ac­cepted it as a so­lu­tion to its predica­ment.

How­ever, no progress had been made since then, and it had be­come clear that ex­pand­ing the pavil­ion would need be ap­proved through the Do­main Man­age­ment Plan process. That sit­u­a­tion meant it was far from guar­an­teed, and would take un­til mid-2019 at best.

It had also emerged that the dam­age was se­ri­ous af­ter all, push­ing up the cost of the re­build, by the squash club’s es­ti­mate, to close to $1 mil­lion.

Af­ter al­most two and a half years in limbo it was un­fair to make the club wait even longer for clar­ity about the pavil­ion’s fu­ture, he said.

He urged coun­cil­lors to throw out their ear­lier de­ci­sion to re­build the pavil­ion and give the club its share of the in­sur­ance money so it could build a new fa­cil­ity else­where. If in­sur­ance re­placed “like for like”, the club would raise the ex­tra money needed for four courts in­stead of two.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Terre Spooner said squash had been marginalised by the coun­cil, with the ef­fects go­ing well be­yond Kerik­eri. The Do­main pavil­ion had been used as a cen­tral point where Kaitaia, Kamo and Whanga¯rei clubs could meet, but Kaitaia play­ers now had to travel long dis­tances for in­ter-club com­pe­ti­tion.

The is­sue was dis­cussed later, in the pub­lic-ex­cluded sec­tion of the meet­ing, mayor John Carter say­ing coun­cil staff were still gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion that would be pre­sented to the De­cem­ber meet­ing.

He un­der­stood the club’s frus­tra­tion.

“They have ev­ery right to feel frus­trated . . . It’s fair to say, at the be­gin­ning both par­ties were re­spon­si­ble for some of the de­lays, but now we prob­a­bly haven’t moved as rapidly as we could have,” he said.


The Kerik­eri Do­main pavil­ion has been boarded up since a fire in June 2016.

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