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30 Years of Experience

It was 1986 when the dream of this facility

was first conjured and three decades later,

locals and visitors are still spending their summers

swimming at the Whangamata Community Pool.

The History of the
Whangamata Community Pool


A community pool built with the goodwill and free labour of Whangamata's skilled tradies is a memory that's almost faded into history.

But 29 years on, it's a story worthy of retelling.

Long before the concept of The Block NZ, Whangamata masterminded the quick-build — bringing hammer-swinging tradies and home baking ladies together to construct two houses that were built and sold to fund the community pool.

"It was quite an adventure," says architect Bruce Scott, who was among a group including John Whittle, Dave Webb and Rob Pipe that instigated the feat.

It was triggered by the leaks in the existing old traditional school pool, explains Bruce.

"We recognised the fact that really the whole town needed a decent swimming pool facility."

Some funding was available through the Education Board to replace the school pool on school land, but the pool needed to service more than just the school.

It would require major fundraising, with a campaign launched in the Coastal News giving regular updates on the target.

"We set up the whole thing as a quick-build and built the two houses in one weekend. The whole town got behind it. All the ladies in town, no matter what age they were, they were bringing down morning tea and lunch. It was a pretty good effort."

There was so much food left over in fact that on Sunday night all the leftovers were taken to the community hall for a shared meal.

Well known Whangmata settler the late Jim Watt owned Moana Pt farm and effectively loaned the use of the land for the houses, with payment not due until the houses were sold.

It was 1986 when the fundraising began and 1987 when the community did the build, making $141,000 at the time, after paying Jim who gave a good deal on the land price.

"It was really phenomenal," reflects Bruce. "It was a reasonable amount of money to be made in one weekend of smalltown fundraising."

The 'quick-build' was filmed at the time and video footage harks back to a time when there was no hard hats or hi-vis.

"It's pretty neat when you look back on it and see some of the crew that are still living here. They've aged quite considerably, and there we are with our short shorts and long hair."

The only minor failure was the use of purple methylated spirits to speed up the drying time on the wall plaster, which caused the wallpaper to go purple three weeks after. It was solved by painting over the wallpaper.

With the money raised, now-retired local John Visser built the pool with labour help, doing concrete pours to a very high standard almost entirely by himself.

"We were very fortunate getting someone like John to do the build, and once that was done we had Doug Bunyon and his crew laying all the blocks around the outside walls, and did another quick build to do all the roof framing and changing rooms."

The plant was brought in but Whangamata plumber Bob Pipe led the way to getting all the connections in and the filtration system up and running.

Painting became a mission due to rainy weather, but Bruce says the open day in November was met thanks to a dodgily constructed cover structure that eventually collapsed.

"All the painters and everyone involved got stuck in and got it done, and luckily there was no damage."

Bruce says the town got together again to build the information centre when it was decided that one was needed, after which the quick-build concept "started to wear a bit thin".

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