An important landmark most Oamaruvians, especially those keen on sport and fitness, will be familiar with turns 30 this month.
The Waitaki Community Recreation Centre, in Orwell St, was officially opened on October 16, 1987 by then Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves.
Owned by the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre Trust, the facility is situated on Ministry of Education land and was developed as part of an arrangement with Waitaki Girls’ High School.
The school has exclusive use of specific areas of the centre at certain times, and contributes to costs involved with the upkeep of the areas it uses.
The recreation centre runs fitness classes, has a weights room and hosts dozens of sports events and age group tournaments each year.
Table tennis, basketball, miniball and shooting are all held there, while Netball South runs an academy at the facility at various times throughout the year.
Other events, including Lions Club conferences, gymnastics competitions and Drive 2 Survive, a secondary school awareness campaign, are held there, and the centre also runs its own school holiday programmes for children.
The recreation centre’s 30th anniversary would be celebrated with a get-together, Waitaki Community Recreation Centre manager Diane Talanoa said.
“We’re just having a small function and just celebrating the 30 years, and to get some of the original people together to share some stories.
“It’s about looking back to look forward . . . and how well it’s served the community for 30 years.”
Plans for the recreation centre dated back to the mid-1980s.
An article that appeared in the Otago Daily Times on May 31, 1985 said design plans for the recreation centre, which had a price tag of between $1 million and $1.2 million, were well on track.
At the time, the Ministry of Education was prepared to commit $740,000 to the project, with the remainder funded through grants from the Oamaru Borough Council and Waitaki County Council reserves funds, several organisations and trusts, and contributions from user groups.
After design plans were finalised and consents were granted in 1986, construction started and was completed in late 1987.
Thirty years later, the recreation centre was as popular as ever, Ms Talanoa said.
“It’s going really well. There’s always stuff finishing and new stuff starting.
“Some of the things that endure are things like classes for senior members and casual users that come along quite often. We have all of the gym and fitness classes and they’re be around forever.
“We possibly have more diversity now, because we have different community groups. For example we have a Filipino basketball league which is quite strong.”
While the core classes remained the same, new sports and activities were often added to the recreation centre’s programme.
Mrs Talanoa said she supported the idea of a new indoor sports facility in Oamaru, but believed the recreation centre needed to be incorporated into it in some way.
A Waitaki District Council-funded Sport Otago feasibility study identified a site at Centennial Park was preferred, at a potential cost of between $22.2 million and $24.6 million if constructed in 2020.
“I think something will happen at some stage, but it’s only really at the beginning stage. I think it’s really important the recreation centre continues to provide the service that it does now and keeps changing, and keeps up with the times.
“I think if we keep reinventing ourselves, we’ll be fine.’