Photo: Tom Allan

Have you seen it? Perhaps you’ve driven the expressway recently. Maybe you’re a regular at Mitre 10 Park. Honestly, if you’ve not been in the area for a while, you’d be forgiven for not having the faintest idea of what was going on. One day it was a car park; now it’s an almost complete Regional Aquatic Centre (due to open mid-August). Being agile and prepared certainly helped when the Government announced there was money up for grabs for “shovel ready projects” under the Covid Response and Recovery Fund. 

Bruce Mactaggart, Founding Trustee and Deputy Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust (launched by Sir Graeme Avery) is now the Trustee responsible for managing the construction of the Aquatic Centre. Truly, the Trust couldn’t have someone more qualified to lead this project. Before moving to New Zealand in 2004, Mactaggart was the general manager at Melbourne and Olympic Parks. He then took on the role of chief executive at Vector (now Spark) Arena, seeing it through from design to completion, and subsequently took over part ownership in the years following. Since moving to Hawke’s Bay, Mactaggart has put years of energy into developing Hawke’s Bay Hockey, among many other pursuits. 

Mactaggart points out that the Regional Aquatic Centre was always part of the long-term vision for the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre. So, in this case, preparation won $32 million in funding from the government. It was among the most shovel ready of shovel ready projects and became one of the first as part of the government’s initiative. 

The project aimed to provide 166 jobs, but the Trustee points out something more interesting: man-hours. The build, managed by Apollo Projects (which has since set up shop in Hawke’s Bay), will have amassed over 130,000 man-hours in 20 months. 

Once complete, the $32 million build will be the largest aquatic complex in New Zealand, adding $70-80 million in assets to the Trust, and jobs for up to 60 staff across the facility. The build is currently running on time and on budget, which is almost unheard of in 2022. 

The Centre includes a 51.5m Olympic-size pool, a 25m learn-to-swim pool, two hydrotherapy pools, and two multi-purpose meeting rooms. The buzzword for this venue is versatility. The 51.5m pool has a moveable bulking which can be used split in half for short course events (hence the extra meter and a half in length). The 25m pool could be for learning to swim, but also short events, or warmups. With the inclusion of the outdoor aquatic facility providing a total six event pools, the complex could play host to the Canoe Polo World Championships. 

Built to an elite standard, with capacity for 1,500 spectators, and the development of the new hostel on the same site, the Centre will be set up to host many regional, national and world events in the coming years.

Join the Conversation


  1. Absolutely fantastic and cant wait to the opening …. well done to everyone involved!

  2. excellent. Great to have all the main sports arenas together in one place.
    Now Napier council don’t need to build one on Prebensen road.
    Well done Bruce Mactaggart and all your workers

    1. there is absolutely still a need to build a community pool in Napier. note the increased number of drownings last summer? in the Bay, it’s because the sea beaches are generally not safe to swim at, and kids have almost nowhere to learn. one learner’s pool at the sports park is only a few drops in the bucket of what’s needed. EVERY kiwi kid should know how to swim!

  3. Thank you Sir Graeme, Bruce and Rodney for your various contributions to the well being of younger HB folk who desire to push themselves just that bit further. Your wisdom and various experiences deserve our most grateful thanks on behalf of our kids and (in my case future great-grand kids) for the foresight that is now evident by putting your money where your mouths are. May Life Be Kind To You.

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