Manawatu Standard

Feilding school hears pupils’ plea and rebuilds pool

- Sinead Gill

It has taken 14 years to make a splash, but based on the smiles and cheers the wait has been worth it.

The pool at North Street School in Feilding is back in action thanks to a 2018 writing exercise in teacher Matua Layton’s bilingual class, when pupils challenged the board of trustees to fix the long-dormant asset.

‘‘And the board listened,’’ said school principal Joanne Reiri-tatana.

The $70,000 cost of rebuilding and installing the pool was funded through the Government’s 2019 School Investment Package.

The pool is heated, so is expected to remain open until the middle of term2 for lessons and recreation­al swimming.

Reiri-tatana did not know the cost of the upkeep.

‘‘Urban schools tend to let [pools] go ... but rural schools have them ... I have not had the bill yet for the heating of it. I am not looking forward to that.’’

The package was part of an investment that every school in New Zealand received, at $693 per pupil, up to $400,000, for urgent property improvemen­ts.

North Street School also used part of the fund to install a large turf ground with different coloured play zones, including a chessboard and multiple four-squares.

Reiri-tatana said the turf cost the school about $110,000.

The pool was officially opened on Thursday for staff and students, and it goes against a national trend of school pool closures.

Between 2013 and 2018, 165 school pools closed throughout New Zealand and a further 135 were at risk of closing due to maintenanc­e costs or health and safety concerns.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills previously told Stuff that school pools played an important role in children learning to swim but ongoing expenses and maintenanc­e were often formidable.

Caretaker Craig Ellen took a running jump into the pool to celebrate and said having it back was exciting.

He became the school caretaker in 2007, the year the pool closed, so it was a special moment for him.

He started at the school as a reliever for his father, Aubrey Ellen, who had been the caretaker for 23 years.

Aubrey Ellen died during the alert level 4 lockdown last year, and the school recently held amemorial to remember the years he dedicated to the school.

 ?? WARWICK SMITH/STUFF ?? Caretaker Craig Ellen takes an impromptu plunge into the pool at the opening ceremony.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF Caretaker Craig Ellen takes an impromptu plunge into the pool at the opening ceremony.
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