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Fond memories . . . Waitaki Community Recreation Centre Manager Diane Talanoa speaks at a function at the centre on Monday to mark its 30th anniversary. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

After 30 years, the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre continues to draw large numbers of people, a trend many hope will continue into the future.

The milestone was celebrated at a function at the centre on Monday to mark its 30th anniversary. About 40 people attended.

The original plan was to construct a gym on land owned by the Ministry of Education for nearby Waitaki Girls’ High School as part of its centenary project.

Those plans were then incorporated with another to build a recreation centre in Oamaru.

As a result, the facility was opened on October 16, 1987, by then Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves.

Denis Dove, who led a fundraising drive for the million-dollar-plus project, said it was exciting to be involved with the centre from its inception in 1985 to its completion two years later.

“At that stage, it was a fundraiser for a high school gym. At the same time, the mayor of Oamaru, Reg Denny, and the borough council were having talks with a group that wanted to build a stadium in Oamaru.

“For us, it was a bit worrying because we were doing one for the school. But everyone got their heads together and decided to build one. It was a pleasure to do it.”

Former Waitaki Girls’ principal Jeanette Aker said the project was a career highlight.

“The whole community worked hard. It was a great project for the centenary and was one of my proudest days when Sir Paul Reeves walked up the stairs to open it.”

Present principal Tracy Walker said the facility offered far more than a traditional school gym, while Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the milestone was a “notable occasion”.