Wellington’s rowing clubs have a new, state-of-the-art facility after a shared training base was opened at the end of February.

 

Formerly known as the Integrated Clubs Building in planning documents, the new building has been blessed in a dawn ceremony and gifted the name Waimarino (“calm waters”) by Kura Moeahu of Taranaki Whānui.

The 504sqm building is in the Honiana Te Puni Reserve on the Petone foreshore at the northern end of Wellington Harbour. It replaces the venerable Green Shed, which has been used for more than fifty years.

Waimarino gives Wellington Rowing Club and Star Boating Club the continuing ability to train when the prevailing northerly is blowing. It supplements their main club facilities at the harbour’s southern end, in Wellington City itself. Petone Rowing Club will also use Waimarino, as they look to upgrade their century-old clubrooms just a short walk away. Wellington Water Ski Club has a bay set aside for their club room and for storage too.

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Members from the clubs attended the blessing of Waimarino at dawn, led by mana whenua Taranaki Whānui.

Waimarino forms part of Waka Kotahi’s Te Ara Tupua project – the Ngauranga to Petone shared pedestrian and cycleway. The project also has the benefit of giving rowers and their coaches a bike path to follow the 2,000m rowing course that runs along that stretch of the harbour.

Wellington Rowing Association Director George Tuffin said he was pleased to see the building open after years of planning and collaborating with many stakeholders on the project.

“I remember attending the first meeting with Waka Kotahi about this project back in 2015. That kicked off many years of negotiating, fundraising and myriad other tasks, so it is wonderful we’ve finally got to this point.

“I’m deeply grateful to all the people and agencies who have helped make Waimarino a reality: Taranaki Whānui for hosting us on their ancestral land; Waka Kotahi and Hutt City Council; all the contractors and subcontractors who have been involved in Te Ara Tupua and Waimarino; and of course, the representatives of the various clubs involved – Wellington Rowing Club, Star Boating Club, Petone Rowing Club, and Wellington Water Ski Club.

“The excellent relationship with Waka Kotahi and Alliance project staff has ensured the Koro Koro rowing course remains in use while the project is underway. Taranaki Whānui and Hutt City Council have agreed to our regattas continuing during the construction period with operations relocated near Waimarino. After the project is complete, regattas will be able to be based at the west end of the Reserve as in the past.”

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George Tuffin (front) and fellow WRA board member Andrew Carr-Smith in front of the newly blessed Waimarino on the Petone foreshore.

Former Wellington Rowing Association Treasurer Laurie Counsell has also been involved in the project from the start. He said the new building was a brilliant development for rowing in Wellington.

“We knew we’d have to replace the Green Shed at some point, but we didn’t have the money. So, when Waka Kotahi told us they needed the land for Te Ara Tupua and offered to build us a new facility just along the foreshore, we were thrilled.”

George, who was also assisted by team members Gordon Dobson and Andrew Carr-Smith, said Wellington Rowing was keen to expand on the initial proposal for the building, which required the association to put together extra funding.

“Wellington Rowing responded to the opportunity to have an extra bay built for the building, by securing around $400,000 in funds from within the sport and grants. Grants funding was also received for the state-of-the-art racking system and a security system, totalling a further $150,000. We acknowledge and thank the funding agencies for their support.”

At the blessing, the project director from Waka Kotahi, Ulvi Salayev, joked that with the new building, he would be expecting to see a few more Olympic medals coming out of the Wellington region.

As George points out, Wellington has produced medallists like Ross Collinge and Dick Joyce (who attended the blessing) and, more recently, Phillip Wilson and Beth Ross.

“And I imagine Waimarino will have many more medallists walking through its doors in the coming years, having begun their rowing careers on Wellington Harbour.

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The cultural artwork on the exterior of Waimarino represents the landforms and waterways around Wellington Harbour, Te Whanganui-a-tara and were designed by iwi artist Len Hetet.

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Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is a keen Masters rower based in Wellington. A member of Wellington Rowing Club off and on since 2000, he spends more time on the erg than the water, trying to convince himself he's still young.