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Rolled out . . . North Otago Recreational Turf Trust chairman Ray Simpson watches Whitestone Contracting Ltd lay asphalt at Centennial Park's hockey turf, which is being replaced as part of a $470,000 project. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Hockey in North Otago is about to get a huge boost, thanks to new turf being laid at Centennial Park.

The home of the North Otago Hockey Association is being upgraded as part of a $470,000 project to replace the original turf, laid in 1999.

The project is being overseen by the North Otago Recreational Turf Trust, which for the last 12 years has put money aside for the turf replacement and secured several grants from external funders.

New Zealand Lotteries ($100,000), the Otago Community Trust ($95,000), the Lion Foundation ($15,000), the New Zealand Community Trust ($15,000), the Alexander McMillan Trust ($20,000) and the Waitaki District Council ($36,000) all contributed to the project. The remainder was contributed by the turf trust.

After the original turf was ripped up over two weekends, work started on Wednesday that involved 25mm of asphalt being laid over the original chip seal to create a smoother playing surface, followed by a shock pad that will act as an underlay and finally the turf itself.

North Otago Recreational Turf Trust chairman Ray Simpson said an asphalt base would solve issues created by the chip seal.

“It allowed mud to come up through into the carpet and although there’s no major slumps or seepage, in some places it’s 5mm to 6mm out, which has affected drainage, so a lot of water wasn’t draining into the drains as it should be .. this time we had to replace it.”

The asphalt will sit for two weeks before Polytan NZ Ltd lays the blue turf, similar to that used at the Rio Olympics.

Mr Simpson said it would have a lifespan of about 15 years.

The turf, along with the pavilion that was opened in September 2015, meant Oamaru would have a top-class facility that could host international matches.

“It’s the new look. With the facilities, when they’re up to scratch, we will definitely have our name in the hat for another test here hopefully in the not-too-distant future.”

Work was expected to take about four to five weeks to complete, with the aim of playing games after Christmas.

While no official opening date had been set, Mr Simpson said two Black Sticks players would be present..

“It’s a pretty special time for hockey in North Otago,” he said.

“North Otago hockey has done a brilliant job of attracting secondary school tournaments every year and by having a better facility, it gives them more of a leg in the door to get higher grade tournaments which bring more teams.

“I think this will revitalise hockey again. Who wouldn’t want to play on it?”