It’s something we might take for granted – covered seating allowing us to watch sports games whether rain or shine.
But for Te Puke and the wider community, a new 400-seat grandstand will be well-used, and greatly appreciated, after years in the making.
Opened officially last week at Te Puke Sports and Recreation Club, the all-weather grandstand was built after the previous one, installed in 1995, became dilapidated and incapable of providing safe seating for the crowds.
The project has been a big community effort which started back in 2017. Te Puke Sports and Recreation Club became aware that Christchurch City Council intended to demolish Lancaster Park and offer the seats to sports organisations across New Zealand.
The club succeeded in being allocated 350 seats which then expanded to 400 when Christchurch City Council donated another 50 seats to support the project.
Several Bay of Plenty kiwifruit companies then combined efforts to transport the seats from Christchurch to Te Puke.
Rick Hannay, Project Coordinator at Te Puke Sports and Recreation Club, says the new grandstand will open up a world of opportunities for the community.
“Until now the Te Puke community has had no outdoor venue with a covered grandstand for spectators. This facility will encourage a variety of sporting, cultural, charity, school and entertainment events that hitherto could not be contemplated. It provides an opportunity for the young, not so young, as well as those with restricted mobility, to participate in a multitude of events.
“It also provides a fantastic spectator venue for all these groups, and better still, community organisations will use this venue free of charge as Te Puke Sports recognises the financial contribution provided by community funders such as TECT.”
With the project costing almost $600,000, Rick says TECT’s $120,000 contribution was crucial to the project going ahead.
“TECT’s support was essential for the grandstand to become a reality, allowing the project to progress and succeed. It was also that cornerstone funding that enabled us to go to other funders and seek further funding. Once they see a project has TECT backing, they can know it is something that has been thoroughly reviewed and approved for community good in our region by TECT.
“The grandstand would not have gotten off the ground without TECT. We are extremely grateful for their support.”
TECT Trustee Peter Blackwell says the grandstand will provide many benefits for the community beyond improved safety.
“The new grandstand provides more than just an improvement in safety. It will allow more sporting codes to be introduced to the club, expand participation at sports days and events, allow the relocation of sporting events to Te Puke, and there are new possibilities to dream big with events such as concerts and markets.
“These are all important things for Te Puke and the wider community – enhancing community togetherness, participation and wellness. It’s what we want to achieve with our funding here at TECT, and we’re so pleased we can be a part of that with our support of this project.
“Having attended the opening ceremony, it was powerful to see the amazing amount of community support in so many different ways, from businesses and individuals that made the project possible. It’s an example of how communities can operate, of what can be achieved, and that is to be hugely applauded. It’s been a fantastic community and club effort to get here today, and it is truly inspiring – congratulations to everyone who played their part.”