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Faulty gym may cost us all

Year 10 Kuranui College student Xzavier-Shakur Sayster uses the school gym every day. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

Team exercise for Kuranui gym

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The cost of rebuilding Kuranui College’s faulty and no longer fit-for-purpose gym may be borne by both taxpayers and ratepayers with a proposed joint funding venture between the Ministry of Education and South Wairarapa District Council.

But several Featherston residents have raised concerns that the funding will come at the cost of other more important issues facing the district and that existing facilities in Featherston could be better utilised.

Originally built in 1961, the gym was extended in 1997 with the addition of a classroom, seating and climbing area.

Structural issues were first reported in 2010 and it has since been classified as a leaky building.

The total cost of rebuilding is estimated to be upwards of $4 million.

In a letter to the families of students at the college, Kuranui principal Simon Fuller said the school’s board of trustees and college leadership team had been negotiating with both the ministry and the council to develop a plan for rebuilding the gymnasium.

Funding for the school’s infrastructure comes from the ministry and is related to the size of the school’s roll.

However, the letter said the ministry had indicated that they are willing to partner with the community to enable building a “fit for purpose facility”.

South Wairarapa District Council’s recently released 2020-2021 Annual Plan consultation document proposes contributing $1m to the rebuild project as part of the proposed new Greytown Sports and Recreation Hub.

This includes a further $1.91m spend to buy the rugby club land, $760k to buy the bowling club land, and an estimated $70,000 to upgrade buildings at both locations.

In its plan, the council said past investment had not kept up with community needs, future population growth, and emerging sporting interests.

The facility could provide a much-needed permanent base for junior football and baseball, with further capacity for athletics, basketball and other sports and recreation.

Fuller said a full-sized indoor facility located at Kuranui would have positive impacts for many generations of students as well as benefit the South Wairarapa community by having a world class facility that could be used by all.

“The new facility would be fully utilised by the college during the school day but would be open for community groups to use outside of school hours and during the holidays.”

The gym is used by the South Wairarapa primary school cluster for basketball, the Greytown Football club during wet weather, for the Spitfire Baseball club’s training, and for TaeKwon Do and South Wairarapa Veterans Basketball.

The gym is still being used, with the college mitigating the risks involved.

The plan is the gym would continue to be used while the new one is being constructed and would then be decommissioned.

There are no alternative indoor sports venues in Greytown.

Featherston resident and former Kuranui College student Eparaima Williams said the gym would be a good for the school, but at the moment it was not needed and there were other more important priorities.

“There’s Martinborough with their water issues, or the flooding in Featherston – those things should come first.

“The maintenance of each town needs to be put forward before the ‘fun’ things.”

He said there were existing facilities like the Featherston Sports Stadium which could be better utilised and questioned what the council planned to do with them if the multi-million-dollar sports hub went ahead.

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