Ōrewa Surf Lifesaving Club is gearing up for the big fundraising push that it needs to make its consented plan for new clubrooms a built reality.
Club president John Chapman says the project is a team effort, with around seven members working on it.
In the years since the project was costed, in 2019, prices have risen – the building was originally expected to cost around $7.2m (not including the whole fitout) and the latest estimate is $8.5m. Around $1m has already been spent to get it to this stage.
Chapman says design changes have been made along the way to reduce costs – including a more cost-effective roof design.
He says the club is currently around $30,000 short of the $500,000 needed for its building consent application. Ideally they hope to get this application into Auckland Council in late March/April.
Best case scenario is for building to begin around April next year – depending on some large, key funding bodies, including central Government, lotteries and Foundation North. The club is also in line to get some money from Surf Lifesaving NZ’s capital projects fund.
A public fundraising campaign is expected to begin around mid-February. This will include approaching potential large donors within the community, such as local busineses.
There will also be packages so that individuals can become community partners in the project and be recognised with a list on the wall of the new facility.
When complete, the building will be a community hub, Chapman says. He says the facilities offered, which will include a restaurant and separate function space upstairs that can cater for around 200 people, will be unique to the area.
Included in the plan is a transportable lifeguard tower that Chapman says added around $250,000 to the cost.
He says the club is excited to finally begin the next phase, with resource consent approval in the bag last month.
“It’s been two steps forward and one step back the whole way, with regulations and Covid-19 in the mix,” Chapman says. “We can’t wait to get started but it’s still a long road ahead.”
Busiest season for surf lifeguards
The summer of 2021 has been the busiest that the region’s surf lifeguards can remember. Ōrewa Surf Lifesaving chair Faron Turner has been at the coalface as he is also the national duty officer overseeing lifeguarding operations across NZ. He says this season has surpassed anything he’s seen in the 23 years he’s been at Ōrewa. Tragically, it included two fatal drownings – one at Waiwera and the other at Wenderholm – as well as a drowning at Waiwera where rescuers successfully revived the person. In the 10 days from January 7-17, there were two incidents where people in serious difficulty were rescued from the Ōrewa surf. Turner says great surf at Ōrewa on January 16 meant that lifeguards were still in the water at 8pm, keeping around 600 surfers safe. Normally lifeguards go home at 6pm. He says it has been a challenging time, with paid lifeguards and volunteers frequently calling on assistance from Red Beach lifeguards and search and rescue. Search and rescue have so far been called upon by Ōrewa surf seven times this holiday season compared with just two occasions in the 12 months prior. Local beaches were packed as never before – generally in the summer, numbers at local beaches like Ōrewa and Wenderholm peak at 1000 but this year numbers at Wenderholm reached more than 2000 on multiple days between Christmas and New Year. Turner says Waiwera was also busier than usual. He suspects this was because Ōrewa was full and people headed north, finding there was no parking left at Hatfields Beach and the traffic headed to Wenderholm was backed up. He suspects that a rapidly growing population, hot weather and Covid-19 restrictions that meant most people spent their summer holidays in NZ, created the swell in numbers. There were swimmers who had less ability in the water, drawn in by the heat, he says. “The population has grown massively, and we have a beautiful coastline,” Turner says. “So this type of busy summer might become the norm.”