Physiotherapist Mark Shirley (left) helps client
Christopher Matahaere in the physio pool, while
physiotherapy student Jess Chicksen supports paraplegic Jim
Duncan, who was swimming with his wife, Sue Duncan. Another
physio client, Judy Oats, is on the right. Photo by Gregor
Small-spending stalwart Cr Hilary Calvert has emerged an
unlikely champion of the Dunedin City Council stepping in to
save the city's physio pool.
Council staff are preparing a report on the pool for the next
community and environment committee in September. It is
possible councillors would consider funding the pool at next
year's annual plan hearing.
The financially stretched Southern District Health Board no
longer wants to fund the pool, which runs at a $100,000
annual operating shortfall and needs an upgrade costing up to
The health board announced this week the pool would close in
December, prompting an outcry from pool users,
physiotherapists and the wider community.
Of councillors contacted by the Otago Daily Times this week,
Cr Calvert was the keenest for the council to take an active
role in the pool, including, if necessary, providing
Other councillors were either noncommittal or ruled it out
because of the council's financial position. Council
infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery said
council staff met the health board and the Otago Therapeutic
Pool Trust a couple of weeks ago to discuss the matter.
Mr Avery said he could not pre-empt the view of councillors,
but it could be considered in next year's budget hearings.
Cr Calvert said the physio pool was the sort of council
spending she supported.
Council spending tended to benefit the young and fit rather
than the old, poor and vulnerable, she said. The physio pool
was used by some of the most vulnerable and they should be
The already ''seriously busy'' Moana Pool was not as equipped
to deal with those who were least mobile and most vulnerable,
''The only reason we don't fund the physio pool now is that
somebody has been.''
Council support could include operational funding, while
encouraging the pool trust to find additional revenue streams
She suggested the Accident Compensation Corporation could
contribute, but the corporation ruled that out yesterday when
contacted by the ODT.
The physio pool fitted within the council's responsibilities
for community social wellbeing, Cr Calvert said.
She said the community could fundraise for the required
upgrade and maybe for some operational funding and she was
keen to get involved in that.
Swimming in the pool yesterday with her paraplegic husband
Jim Duncan, Sue Duncan said Moana Pool was unsuitable for him
''The disadvantaged are being disadvantaged still further by
the decision to close the pool,'' she said. Pool manager Gaye
Davies said many swimmers had been asking questions about the
possible closure and one had been in tears.
The ODT was contacted by Dunedin physiotherapist Steve August
yesterday, who said the pool had rehabilitative facilities
that were not available elsewhere in Dunedin.
''It is warmer and quieter than the Moana Pool and slopes
from waist-deep to over 3m. ''This means patients can work on
rehabilitation in selected degrees of weight-bearing and
buoyancy. ''Practical rehabilitation and ongoing self-care of
this sort reduces load on the city's hospital and medical
''I'm appalled at the thought of losing it,'' Mr August said.
Cr Andrew Noone said the council might have a role to play in
finding a solution to the pool that did not involve giving
money. Cr Neville Peat said giving support was unlikely, and
Cr Chris Staynes said the council could not afford it.
Cr Lee Vandervis believed the pool was a central Government
Cr Jinty MacTavish and Cr Kate Wilson needed more information
Cr Andrew Whiley said the health system was responsible for
the pool. Cr Richard Thomson told the ODT on Wednesday it was
highly unlikely the council would support the pool.
Cr Thomson, who is also a Southern DHB member, said pool
users would have to pay for the pool themselves.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull told the ODT on Wednesday that taking
on the pool would be a big ask for the council.
Crs John Bezett, David Benson-Pope, Aaron Hawkins, Doug Hall,
and Mike Lord, could not be contacted.