6 Mar 2017

From beach campaign, to saving school pool

11:19 am on 6 March 2017

A Christchurch school pool restored by parents and volunteers then destroyed by the February 2011 earthquake will be rebuilt yet again.

Duane Major Christchurch

Duane Major was behind the Buy the Beach campaign. Photo: RNZ / Joelle Dally

Duane Major, who was behind the Buy the Beach campaign that saw New Zealanders buy a piece of Abel Tasman Park, is helping lead the effort.

He hopes, come spring, West Spreydon School will have its second pool reopening in seven years.

Originally built by parents and children wielding wheelbarrows during the 1930s depression, the pool fell into disrepair and closed in 2008.

Parents wanted the pool back and after three years of fundraising and countless volunteer hours, the new pool complex was complete. It officially opened on 17 February, 2011.

Duane Major at the West Spreydon School pool. It will be rebuilt - yet again.

Duane Major in the broken West Spreydon School pool in Christchurch in December. Photo: RNZ / Joelle Dally

Five days later, on 22 February, the earthquake hit.

"It just cracked. It just completely broke. It had survived many of the other shakes, it just didn't survive that one," Mr Major said.

"It's been empty ever since ... it was pretty gut-wrenching, all that work we'd put in... We were right back at the beginning."

The Ministry of Education's insurance did not cover it.

"To go to the local council-run facility ... you get 10 or so lessons a year. When it's in your school, you can do daily lessons," Mr Major said.

Outside school hours, it was a place "where people connected".

West Spreydon School reopened weeks before the February 2011 earthquake.

The new pool had opened weeks before the February 2011 earthquake. Photo: Supplied

So the campaign started again from scratch.

Now, the Christchurch City Council has approved the consent and this week the base will be poured.

"This has been a little bit longer than anticipated... but I believe it will be worth it in the end," Mr Major said.

"The more access we can get to water for our young, and create memories and connections around our communities, the better."

Mr Major said the pool steering group had raised about $700,000, which would get the pool in the ground. They needed about $200,000 of donated goods, services or money to get it done.

"That's the community challenge."

They hope to have the pool in the ground by Easter and be swimming by Canterbury Anniversary Day in mid-November.

"It was always about more than the pool, it was about the community."

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