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Tara Carter and her son Niko stand in the flooded court five at the Hauraki Plains Netball Centre. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Jump in cost puts flooded courts on back foot

Court five at the Hauraki Plains Netball Centre is underwater.
A moderate amount of rain the day before has rendered it unusable, while two more courts have puddles where the centre circles should be.
The sodden playing surface has become the norm for the sports club, but its committee members were excited for a change in status quo after receiving a significant amount of funding for refurbishment.
However, the cost of the project has increased by as much as $340,000, leaving the centre on the back foot.
Tara Carter is not just the Hauraki Netball Centre’s fundraising and facilities officer, but she also has the role of health and safety officer, so she hears first-hand how the flood-prone surface in the Hugh Hayward Domain affects her players.
“People report their incidents that have occurred, and most of them are related to water on the courts,” she told The Profile. “Where the water pools, sediment builds up, and even when the water has drained away, it’s really slippery.”
The courts were constructed in 2008 by landowners Hauraki District Council, and Tara said their age, plus the subsidence that occurs underneath the surface, stopped rainwater from draining and caused the courts to flood.
“From five years ago, there’s always been talks about the courts needing to be upgraded, so I started the ball rolling around two years ago, meeting contractors on-site and meeting with council,” Tara said.
She obtained quotes from a number of contractors, which all gave her an indication that the work would cost between $150,000-$220,000.
She began applying for grants and had all three approved, receiving $30,000 from Trust Waikato, $32,000 from Grassroots Trust, and $209,000 from Lottery Community Facilities. Including the centre’s own funds of around $100,000, she had successfully accumulated $370,000 for the project.
However, after bringing in surveyors and engineers to kickstart the resealing, they told her “it would be a lot more than we originally thought”.
The latest quote, as of July, came to $560,000.
Since then, Tara said she has been “back and forward” with Hauraki District Council, and there’s added time pressure as well.
With the netball playing season running between April and August, it’s ideal for the contractors to do the necessary work this summer, she said.
Not only that, but there was a time crunch on when the centre had to use its funding – Tara said she had been told by Lotteries NZ that they had until August, 2024, to use the money.
“During the winter season, we write court five off and try to guarantee we’ve got three courts to play on out of our six.
The playing nights are Mondays and Wednesdays because we can’t accommodate all of the teams in one night. It’s just a real mission,” she said.
“It really affects our ability to have a competition, and that’s not going to go away until we replace the courts. It’s got to happen at some point – we’ve got this money now, we have a timeframe we have to use it by, so we’re just desperate for more money from anywhere.”
Not being able to receive any funding from the council to cover the shock shortfall had been a real “bone of contention,” Tara said, but Mayor Toby Adams told The Profile that council just didn’t have $200,000 to spare.
“We had a meeting with them… and they said they needed to spend the [funding] money or give it back, and we said: ‘Well, there’s no guarantee you’ll get any extra funding, so it’s not wise to get a contract tendered out’.
“But I said: ‘If you ask the council today for $200,000, I can tell you the answer will be no. We’ve overspent everywhere and we don’t have $200,000 to spare’.
“What we did offer was to use myself and our staff to talk to their funding providers and see if there was an opportunity to hold off for a little while we worked on other funding arrangements.”
Mayor Adams said when council consults on its Long Term Plan next year, it would be “the perfect time” for the netball centre to put forward a submission for funding.
“For this financial year, the budgets are already set and spent, so we didn’t have a spare $200,000 for this financial year. We may be able to do something, or get a signal that the community was happy for us to fund this, through the submission process.”
He did want to “take his hat off” to the netball centre’s committee and “to the person who has really been driving the fundraising”, he said. “They’ve done an amazing job.”
However, he said “the real killer here” was timing.
“It’s been really unfortunate timing – getting the original pricing, and then when it’s come time to do the work, there’s been such a jump in cost – that’s the unfortunate part.”
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