No sign of planned third hockey turf

Andy McLean
Andy McLean
The wait goes on for a third hockey turf in Dunedin.

The project has been on Otago Hockey Association’s wish list for more than a decade, but significant progress was made in September last year when a proposed $1.8 million turf at King’s High School cleared an important barrier.

The Ministry of Education, who own the land, gave the Otago Hockey Association [OHA] the green light to use the land.

The Dunedin City Council agreed two years ago to spend $500,000 on the facility, and the Community Trust of Otago committed to a $200,000 grant in December 2016.

King’s and the OHA have been charged with finding the remainder of the funding. But the joint project appears to have lost steam and OHA general manager Andy McLean acknowledges there is plenty of work ahead to see the plan through to fruition.

"There is nothing really to update other than we are still all working on it," McLean said.

"There is no hold-up as such. It is obviously a big project and hopefully we will be able to progress that shortly.

"I don’t think saying it has dropped down the priority list is the way to put it. But I guess with the change of personnel things were a bit disjointed there for a wee bit."

McLean took over the reins at the OHA in March this year. He replaced Rachel Minton-Smith, who left in May 2017 after more than three years in the role.

She was instrumental in helping push the development of a third turf at King’s and, at the time of her departure, was hopeful construction would begin before the end of the year.

The aim was to have the facility ready for the start of the 2018 season, but that deadline slipped by and it is unclear where the project stands.

King’s High School rector Dan Reddiex has not responded to media requests, and McLean suggested it was just a "matter of working through it".

He was not willing to put a date on when construction might begin but conceded there was further fundraising ahead.

"It is not a number that we are hard and fast on putting out there," he responded when asked what the shortfall was.

"Funding is obviously ongoing. We’re talking to various funders and that is a crucial part of moving it forward."

The proposed facility is an all-weather multi-purpose turf which would be water-based and meet international standards.

It would be located next to the school’s tennis courts and run parallel with Kirkcaldy St.

It would solve a desperate need for the hockey community, and would be available for other sporting codes.

It would also allow the city to host larger tournaments.

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