What to do with the NSEC?
It's the home of our team the Breakers but what do Joseph Bergin and Richard Hills think should happen to the North Shore Events Centre?
By Joseph Bergin
If you're going to do something, do it properly or not at all! This is something the Auckland Council has never really got their collective heads around. When they build a new centre/theatre/facility there is always a mismatch between what they want to build and what they are willing to pay.
I have a strong personal connection to the North Shore Events Centre. Not only was it finished and opened the year I was born, I played basketball there throughout high school, have gone to Breakers games there including that first big win and even now still go there a few times a week for exercise classes. I know that so many others have fond attachments to this building whether that be the concerts that were once put on there, various competitions that have been hosted there or just the odd expo. But looking at the building I constantly think about its future and those of the other facilities we have on the Shore.
Every time the council is in session there seems to be new idea, a new facility, which someone has dreamed up and put together some artistic drawings of. Velodromes, white-water rafting facilities, exhibition centres... Project after project being taken off the shelf and wide-eyed councillors, who aptly play the role of kids in candy shops, eagerly leaping at the opportunity of having a brand new shiny project to play with. Hardly surprising is the fact that they mostly ignore the massive operating costs associated with each of these new builds.
The North Shore Event Centre, like the Bruce Mason Centre and some of our other regional facilities, has never been properly funded and has been run by boards of volunteers on their owntime. These people are the reason we have such brilliant community facilities. However, in a lot of ways they have become the victims of their own success. Because the council has supplied such little funding annually, these facilities have been supported by funders like lotteries and the Lion Foundation. This independence has led to the council reducing its level of support, but not so they can lower rates... Instead so they can pursue more bright and shiny ideas.
Making this situation worse, some of these buildings are beginning to look tired. Most councils have never quite managed to get their heads around the concept of depreciation. So while NSEC and I share our 21st birthday this year, I can't help but think of how much longer is left in her without the council waking up and realising that wish lists are for Santa and shouldn't take the form of political agendas.
But hey, what do I know?
» Joseph Bergin is a born and raised Shore boy and the youngest elected member of the Auckland Council. Sitting on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, he has a history of working with grassroots youth not-for-profits on the Shore.
By Richard Hills
The North Shore Events Centre is an extremely important community asset and sports facility, based within the Kaipatiki Local Board boundaries and used by the wider North Shore community and beyond. The centre is in need of significant upgrades to reach its full potential and keep up with community demand now and into the future.
Now, more than 20 years old, it has served our community well, with over 80 per cent of its operation being community-based, grassroots sports and community events. Basketball and gymnastics are the major users but also has regular use from netball, volleyball, badminton and other sports. The NSEC Trust estimates 50 per cent of its 300,000 annual users are under the age of 18 which is significant for the future of sport in our community. It is run by the NSEC Trust and its relationship and responsibilities with Auckland Council sits within the Regional Facilities Auckland CCO (RFA). It is funded largely from grants, revenue from corporate events and tickets from home games of our local champions The Breakers. The centre also receives funding from RFA which helps cover some of its operating costs.
Short term we need to advocate for capital funding for sound proofing, air conditioning and ventilation. This would enable it to take on more events and be flexible with the kind of events it can take on, enabling the centre to get more value for money and keep it sustainable. Proper ventilation will also keep the courts to a high standard for events such as Breakers games which frequently sell out.
Long-term, the centre must expand. Currently it has only four courts which limits the use and despite having one of the biggest gymnastics facilities in Auckland, both basketball and gymnastics have waiting lists and can't keep up with current demand. Part of our Kaipatiki Local Board Plan is to develop a Northcote Sports Precinct, the plan for this starts within this financial year, it will include and consolidate all of our sports facilities and fields from the NSEC to Onewa Domain. I hope part of this will identify space and contingency for NSEC to expand and indicate how we move forward over the next 10 years.
We are lucky to have Kay McIntyre on our board who has had plenty of experience building and managing sports facilities, a focused NSEC Trust board and Donald Southee, the centre manager, who is passionate about our community, the centre and its future; he meets with us regularly advocating for its upgrade and increase in service. I hope that Auckland Council and RFA can see NSEC's obvious potential and need for growth if we are to become the world's most liveable city.
» Kaipatiki Local Board Member Richard Hills, born and bred in Glenfield, is responsible for the Youth, Community and Social Development and Events portfolios. He works part-time as a Community Health Worker, predominantly working with young people across wider Auckland.
North Shore Times