Hockey Wanganui begins upgrade of Gonville Domain turf

30 October 2018

Hockey Wanganui has done the sums and is confident the Gonville turf can be replaced on budget and in time for the 30th anniversary of the New Zealand Masters Games in February.

In fact, work has already begun despite a shortfall of $155,000 from the $795,000 estimated total cost. A working bee was held on Saturday to roll up the old mat in readiness for a replacement of the surface. The rolled up turf has other uses and is available to buy through Hockey Wanganui.

Hockey Wanganui says the turf at Gonville Domain had come to the end of its useful life as a hockey surface. The current turf, laid in 1990 and recarperted in 2006, is developing tears and the shell rock base is sinking in parts.

This project has been under development for more than two years now with Hockey Wanganui going into discussions and feasibility studies with Wanganui Collegiate School and the Whanganui District Council around Springvale Park development, but those would require a $1.6 million and $2m build.

It was decided at the end of 2017 that the best option was to upgrade the turf at the existing Gonville stadium. This would still fit within the Regional Facilities Plan for the region which highlighted a need to upgrade the Gonville Park area.

Replacing the sand-based turf with a water-based international standard surface will support participation growth and allow the venue increased opportunity to host national and international competitions.

Hockey Wanganui operations manager and former Black Stick Robbie Matthews said the turf replacement would be finished in time for the NZ Masters Games in February.

"This new turf will have a life expectancy of 30 years with only the mat having to be replaced once during that period," Matthews said.

"We require a further $155,000 to get this project completed in time and are looking for players, supporters, families, companies and community to help raise the remaining amount. We are presently looking for a naming rights sponsor for the stadium and have put together a four-tiered sponsorship programme to engage others.

"This is an exciting opportunity to help fund a fantastic facility for Whanganui. Help us get over the line and become a valued part of this project for Whanganui," Matthews urged.

It is estimated that hockey contributes $815,000 per annum to the Whanganui economy (based on WDC formulas).

"Just one five-day tournament with 16 teams brings about $150,000 to Whanganui. We have over 1000 registered players right here, and 1600 travel to Whanganui to compete through the season.

"Hockey is very popular in Whanganui and is a growing sport nationwide, projected to go from 55,000 to 65,000 players by 2030."

Hockey Wanganui has raised $640,000 from donations from 4 Regions Trust, NZCT, the Lions Foundation and Whanganui District Council including $120,000 from Hockey Wanganui itself.

"We wish to get this project completed as there are a number of exciting opportunities on the radar including completing in time for the February Masters Games."

Matthews is excited about the opportunity to be the catalyst for other development opportunities at Gonville Domain.

"Our turf site is placed among some great green space that at present is underutilised and Hockey Wanganui is already exploring the opportunities to utilise the new surface for more sporting opportunities than solely hockey.

"The water-based surface is way more user friendly for other sports such as football and touch and would be a great venue for junior modules of these codes. In the winter football struggled to find venues to train when a lot of the fields were closed due to wet conditions."

Matthews said Hockey Wanganui was open to exploring opportunities for others to use the surface.

"We are also exploring in partnership with Wanganui Collegiate the opportunity to support Rangitikei school and adult teams to join the Whanganui competition again instead of them having to travel and play in the Manawatu competition in Palmerston North, this will only strengthen our wider region."