Appeal for indoor sports facilities

A Wanaka sports club has accused the Queenstown Lakes District council of favouring outdoor male-dominated sports, in a bid to convince the council to fund another indoor sports centre.

Aspiring Gymsports Gymnastics Club spokeswoman Colleen Nisbet said the council spent nearly half a million dollars on a new skateboard park in Pembroke Park.

"Why can’t they support gym sports, too?"

Speaking in the public forum of the Wanaka Community Board meeting at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Thursday, Ms Nisbet said gym sports and other indoor sports with a large female participation should be supported in the same way that outdoor male-dominated sports, such as rugby and skateboarding, have been supported.

"By continuing to fund these mostly male-dominated outdoor activities as a priority over indoor sport options, the council is seen to be favouring men’s sports over women’s, and continuing the dialogue that men’s sports are more important than women’s sports," she said.

Ms Nisbet was one of several speakers at the meeting who suggested the council buy or lease the former Mitre 10 premises in Anderson Heights and re-purpose the empty building for a community youth and sports centre.

Sport Otago community sports adviser Kelvin "Tiny" Carruthers said he had identified 39 groups, including Kahu Youth, that were operating in inadequate facilities and were facing increasing commercial rents.

"Some groups cannot sustain their current rents so their future is bleak. The community board and the council need more understanding of the impact these groups have in our community."

Kahu Youth now had 250 pupils and students accessing its services, there were 500 on its register and it was hiring more staff to meet the growing demand.

The Mitre 10 building "ticks every box" outlined in the proposed master plan for sports facilities in this Covid world, he said.

Michael Sidey said from his experience as chairman of the Wanaka Watersports Facility Trust, Community Networks and as an appointed trustee of Central Lakes Trust, "the mental health of many of our young people is quite brittle ... and we are aware the stresses of Covid have increased that pressure markedly.

"The Mitre 10 building is a unique opportunity for any community ... and a solution to the obvious crisis," he said.

Mr Sidey said he understood the Covid crisis had made the council’s infrastructure spending more difficult and suggested the $8million remaining in the fund from the sale of Scurr Heights land be used to buy the building.

Mayor Jim Boult, who was at the meeting, said he supported the idea of council acquiring the Mitre 10 building both from a council and personal point of view.

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