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Making a splash … Waiau’s new pool was put to good use on opening day. PHOTO: ROBYN BRISTOW

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Put simply, Waiau’s new pool is an expensive, hi-tech hole in the ground, full of water, Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley says.

“The real story is you,” he told a big gathering at the opening of the pool last Saturday. “A tiny community that was inspired to climb out of a disaster and take on a massive challenge and succeed.”

The Waiau community had carried on the pioneering traits of its forebears, overcoming obstacles and doubt and replacing it with determination and grit.

“You rolled up your sleeves and you have achieved a lasting legacy.”

Designers, contractors and volunteers had left no stone unturned in their determination to have a pool up and running for the community as quickly as possible.

“You can be very proud.”

One local contractor, in particular, Billy Lott, was the “rock star” of Waiau, for the time and commitment he had put into the project.

The infrastructure to replace the original pool, lost in an instant in the November 2016 7.8-magnitude quake, would be enjoyed for years.

“This is the first of the community rebuilds. You have set the bar very high and it will give inspiration to others. “This is a very proud day for Waiau and the Hurunui district. You can all be very proud of this outstanding accomplishment and the part everyone played in it,” Mr Dalley said.

He singled out the hard-working pool committee, led by Emma Duncan with support from Caroline Eastmond, and former Waiau resident Vernon Kelliher, who kicked off a nationwide fundraising campaign. He also praised Trish Hughes, from the Department of Internal Affairs, and Cr Julia McLean, who worked with Pools in Schools to get a temporary pool up and running for the community, and council chief executive Hamish Dobbie, who helped the committee negotiate red tape.

The site and pool was blessed by Brett Cowan from the Kaikoura Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, with the help of Emma, the school board of trustees chairwoman.

“Congratulations Waiau, we did it,” Emma said. “What an incredible asset for the community to be proud of and it couldn’t have been achieved without your support.

“It has been some journey and it has been a privilege to share it with a passionate committee, who each brought their own skills to the team.”

Emma said she was always mindful of the operating costs of the new pool and announced that it would be known as the MainPower Waiau Community Pool, thanks to a naming sponsorship deal with the North Canterbury electricity distribution business.

Vernon, who “back in the day” was the part-time caretaker at the Waiau pool, and who kicked off the fundraising appeal, made the journey south from Auckland for the opening.

Even though he was 1100 kilometres away, he managed to get the whole country to swing behind the campaign to replace the pool through various means, with 33,000 people taking part in a national mufti day in schools.

Added to this was sponsorships, donations on a Give a Little page, and four major funding organisations giving valuable backing to the project.

Mr Dalley and Cr Nicky Anderson cut the ribbon, signalling the opening of the pool.