Tauranga Hockey Association's third turf was officially opened in October 2020, with members of the association, community and key stakeholders in attendance.
The opening party included Turi Ngatai from Ngāi Tukairangi/Ngati Kuku, Tauranga Hockey Chair Peter Puchner, Tauranga Hockey President Gill Gemming, Deputy Mayor Tina Salisbury, and TECT Trustee Peter Farmer.
The speakers discussed Tauranga Hockey's 100-year history, the value of the facilities for our community, and the years of hard work that have gone into making the association what it is today. Special thanks were given to everyone involved in helping make the vision for the third turf a reality – a big project that started back in 2015.
With the opening of the new turf, Tauranga Hockey also took the opportunity to rename all three turfs, announcing these at the event. The third turf has been named Moana/Ocean, the Beach turf is now Tahatai/Coast, and the Port turf has been named Whanga/Harbour.
Tauranga Hockey Association was established in 1920. Their facilities at Blake Park are well used with over 2800 registered players, attracting people from across the community – with local and social use through to competition and national representatives.
With continual development and dedication over the years, it is now recognised as one of the leading centres for hockey in the country.
As the turfs have worn down, and the lighting started to fade, TECT has been there to restore the facilities; ensuring the community has access to a high quality, safe facility to play hockey.
Support from TECT was first sought back in 1998 and has continued since then, with funding going towards water pumps, bores, floodlighting, and upgrades to the two artificial turfs.
The $800,000 grant for the two turfs upgraded the 20-year-old sand-filled artificial surface to a safer water-based turf and enabled the upgrade of the 10-year-old water-based turf. Without these improvements, it would not have been safe to play hockey on either turf beyond 2012.
The upgrades saw Tauranga Hockey Centre meet the turf requirements for Tier 2 of Hockey NZ's Venue Specifications, a level that made the association eligible to host International test matches, NHL Round Robin games, U21 & U18 tournaments as well as the Oceania Games, Masters, Secondary School and other representative tournaments.
In 2018, TECT funding was sought to develop the third full-sized water-based artificial hockey turf. With increasing player numbers, the existing two turfs did not adequately provide for training and tournaments, leading to turf unavailability and excessively long days for competition.
With a TECT grant of $400,000, the new turf was finished earlier this year, providing additional turf capacity of 54 hours per week. The facilities are now able to better cope with the continued growth in player numbers through provision of more competition and training space.
While the opening of the turf was put on hold during the lockdown, Tauranga Hockey Association General Manager Clinton Butler says he is pleased to see it open after years in the making.
"The third turf has been keenly welcomed by players from across the region. It removes barriers to play – with more turf capacity we will get more young players starting a lifelong love of the sport, and we will attract more high-level hockey events to the region and the economic benefits they bring. It's an incredible asset for our region.
"We are grateful that TECT has always seen the bigger picture in what we are trying to achieve. It's more than just new lights, or new turf; it's providing a facility that is safe and enjoyable to play on, one where countless volunteer, coaching, training, and tournament hours are spent."
TECT Trustee Peter Farmer says TECT's contribution of over $1.2 million towards the facility over the years was a testament to TECT's commitment to the growth of sport in the region.
"Sport plays a significant role in our community; it is inclusive, something every one of us can take part in no matter our age, skill or ability. Now more than ever, we see just how important it is for us all to keep active and stay connected to one another.
"TECT has been a huge proponent for sport, and we are so pleased our continued support of Tauranga Hockey has led to a world-class facility today that more people can play on."
Are you interested in playing hockey? Visit http://www.tgahockey.co.nz/ to learn more.