Agriculture isn’t the engine of Hawke’s Bay. It’s sport.
Sports in Hawke’s Bay draw an astounding amount of passion, participation and volunteer energy.
This was driven home to me today when I received Sport Hawke’s Bay’s March calendar. Take a look at page 2 here.
I’m not sure that even those directly involved — in everything from bowling to badminton, croquet to canoe polo, surfcasting to softball — truly realize the extent of it. Maybe because so much of it happens under the shadow of the high profile sporting events. March alone in Hawke’s Bay will see big events like the Crusaders vs Chiefs, the Tremains Corporate Triathlon, NZ Horse of the Year, and professional basketball.
Virtually all of this is volunteer-driven. Even wooing the Crusaders vs Chiefs to Hawke’s Bay required the special effort of a determined volunteer … in this case, Kevin Atkinson, a director of the HB Rugby Football Union, who moonlights as a business executive and chair of the HBDHB.
It’s just a pity that the sport community needs to direct so much of its energy into coping with the parochialism of Hawke’s Bay governance. Whether they are competing for playing fields, facilities, event hosting or funding, the various codes and their supporters must contend with councils whose tendency is to ‘look after their own’ regardless of any rational assessment of the region’s true needs, deficiencies, opportunities and ability to pay.
This point was driven home by a letter published Tuesday in Hawke’s Bay Today, written by Malcolm Dixon, principal at Frimley Primary School in Hastings. He writes, in part (here’s the entire letter):
“As a region we need to get down and do some regional strategic planning around sports facilities. Hawke’s Bay will never be a leader while we have the councils pulling in opposite directions. They all need to be in the same canoe the sooner the better for the sake of all of us.”
Mr Dixon was writing in support of the proposed International Hockey Centre for the regional sports park.
Now, personally, I’m not sure whether Hawke’s Bay needs a television-ready hockey field for maybe two international competitions a year more than it needs more hockey fields closer to our own kids’ homes. What’s the priority? Or, is that money better spent on refurbishing community swimming pools and adding a regional aquatics centre. Or, can we have — can we afford — it all?
But today we can’t even have a rational discussion of the matter, because we have too many councils out to score their own goals, while the sport codes run around ragged.