Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Floating the idea

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  • Tamara,

    I agree, beaches are no substitute for pools. We went to Pt Chev beach this weekend and it was lovely, and great swimming for my littlies. However, that was due to a magical combination of it being summer, good weather, no waves and high tide at a reasonable time. Most of the time we may not get even one of these factors, let alone all. Usually the seawater in Auckland is too cold to swim in comfortably and there are too many waves for my daughters' liking. Do the objectors even have children?

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    This is nonsense in various ways. There are hundreds of public swimming pools and coastal baths in and around, say, Sydney.

    Indeed, it is ridiculous to suggest pools are the preserve of cold climate towns and besides, as a displaced kiwi in Sydney, even I'd say Auckland's actually pretty cool, at least comparatively.

    Where I live in Sydney, the inner west, there's been significant development/redevelopment/investment in public pools. Off the top of my head, four public pools have been developed or completely refurbished within 5 kilometre of my home. That said, the entry to the new pool in Enmore (apparently one of the most ecologically sustainable aquatic centres in Australia) costs $6 per adult.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Is Herald seriously suggesting that Auckland doesn’t get cold in winter and the sea doesn’t become unpleasantly chilly, with the only swimmers being hardcore ocean swimmers who are kitted out in wetsuits? The sea in July is no place for a kid to learn to swim.

    In happier news, the Bilders are also playing tonight in Wellington at the Watusi. Woo!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1851 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Tamara,

    Do the objectors even have children?

    Probably. But being Herald employees they likely could afford to send their children to swimming lessons, so it would've never been an issue. Being too poor to learn to swim is a problem for those brown types in South Auckland, not the "proper" citizens of other parts of Megatropolis.

    I lived in Manurewa for the first 11 years of my life, and found the concept of paying to go to a council-owned swimming pool when we moved to Hamilton to be completely absurd. I understood that places like Waiwera cost, but the Hamilton pools have the council logo plastered all over. Council pools were free, right?

    In a country with a drowning rate as high as ours (it's one of the highest in the world, I believe), it's definitely worth investigating how to make swimming accessible to everyone. If parents can't swim, then they're probably not going to teach their kids how to swim even if there's a beach handy. Swimming pools have lifeguards, and swimming lessons, and that applies to the residents of Takapuna and Remmers just as much as it applies to those who reside in Otara and Manurewa.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I lived in Manurewa for the first 11 years of my life, and found the concept of paying to go to a council-owned swimming pool when we moved to Hamilton to be completely absurd. I understood that places like Waiwera cost, but the Hamilton pools have the council logo plastered all over. Council pools were free, right?

    I might be a little older than you Matthew, but I too grew up in South Auckland, Papatoetoe, the council pool there wasn't free although entry was very cheap, a dollar or less in the early '80s I think. Still you point is entirely valid, council facilities ought to be as cheap as possible to encourage maximum use.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    Yes, I grew up in Pakuranga in a family on a tight budget and we spent a lot of time at Swimarama (as it was then), which had entry of a dollar or so.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Wearing my personal private citizen hat, I see the swimming pool entry fee subsidy in terms of the following; if it's ok for for Key and Binglish to hike GST, meaning that them poor brown folk pay just that little bit more proportionately, and bring the tax rate down for the rich white folk, meaning that they pay less in tax, then I think it ok to whack a few extra dollars on the rates bill for the Eastern Suburbs to pay for the entry fee for poor brown folk who will in all likelihood be using the pools. Bonus - them poor brown folk learn to swim, saving health expenditure dollars.

    For those challenged, please note the slight sarcasm. Doffing said hat.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney,

    I don't support this philosophically. What might work in South Auckland, might not work in Takapuna. So on that basis, calling for a report is a safe start.

    Bernard Orsman's cost analysis needs some work. The cost is not likely to be $3.76 per visit. More likely it is $3.76 above what the current subsidised cost is.

    Swimming pools are extremely expensive to maintain. Offering things "free" (aside from the point there is no such thing) increases demand. With increased demand, comes increased capital and operating costs. The $3.76 cost claimed by Orsman (if accepted) won't be the same across Auckland, and won't stay at that amount for very long.

    The proponents of "free" public transport make the same mistake - costs analyses show that far from it being free, "free" things are extremely costly on society.

    Having said this, there are good political arguments for Mayor Brown to suggest "free" swimming pools. It's very easy to offer something for free; and Turkeys don't often vote for early Christmas.

    One day the chickens will come home to roost on "free" this and that, if they're not already here. The problem of course with "free" things is that you eventually run out of other people's money.

    Mind you, as a regular swimmer, and triathlon competitor (albeit a slow one) "free" training at Takapuna or Glenfield pool might look quite attractive.

    Finally, yes, I am a parent. One who works and who has paid for swimming lessons for my daughter. If something is going to be free, it might be cheaper to offer free lessons to children under, say, 9 or 10, rather than free access. It might be cheaper for parents to pay for access to the pool, but for the lessons to be "free". After all, it's the lessons our children need, not access per se.

    I make that point without really thinking it through!

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Our three (8 and 6) have all been through Mt Albert Aquatic Swimming lessons, and the worth of them was highlighted when I spent several hours boogie boarding and body surfing with the older ones over this past weekend. There were times when waves would break a foot or two over their heads, and they seemed completely unaffected by it (while I panicked) and it was usually me that dragged us back to shore long before they were ready.

    Comparing this with my own tentativeness growing up, in spite of living coastal, and having lessons at school, the benefit of formal, and regular, lessons seems pretty obvious.

    Regarding our terrible statistics, given our extensive, and accessible, coastline, it would be interesting to know how much time we spend in the water on average compared to other countries. Also how much of this time is on surf beaches with rips and other hidden dangers.

    Bonus - them poor brown folk learn to swim, saving health expenditure dollars.

    For those challenged, please note the slight sarcasm. Doffing said hat.

    I for one will be interested to see if you get away with that. Bit of a logical leap, apart from the, IMhO, unnecessarily contentious turn of phrase.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I suspect a more significant problem with making all council pools free is likely to be that a model that fits a basic open-air pool would be difficult to apply to the Mt Albert Aquatic Centre, with its hydroslide, wave machine, spas and saunas.

    Having taken a couple of free swims off the ratepayers of Auckland over the Christmas/New Year break, I can say that this didn't appear to present a problem in the council pool I went to, where you paid for use of the Spa or Sauna or Steam room and didn't for the main or kiddie's pool.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2996 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Okay, here's something I know a wee bit about. Every year, there are drownings. Last year, there were 86. Water Safety NZ has the statistics, and breakdowns of those. But all I know is this: children make up a sizeable proportion of those statistics - about 25%. And all of them would be preventable deaths. Schools already do watersafe programmes, but what about kids under 5? Well, for those kids, especially in traditionally low-socioeconomic areas where people haven't normally had pools in their backyard, public pools are it. Many of my kids have swimming lessons of a Saturday morning, and many of them spend a great deal of time at the public pools in Mangere or Papatoetoe. (If we had a pool at the kindergarten, then we would be doing it there. But we don't. And going to the public pools as a kindergarten trip is sort of off the charts unmanageable - 1:1 ratios around water are the thing, and can you imagine trying to make sure all 45 kids at a time are ok? Even I am not that silly. ) And in middle class Mt Eden? Lots of the kids round here go to Maungawhau Primary, and that pool is teeming on weekends and after school in summer. I believe it's one of the last school pools still going, around here. So I'm all for making public pools free, or at least free for kids. And that's not to mention the fairly large numbers of PI men who get themselves into shit around the water. They, too, would benefit from free public pools. I would have said this was win/win all around.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Russell…

    fees for hydroslides and saunas can easily work side-by side with free entry to the pool…. you just need to pay for the brightly coloured bracelet that allows you entry to those sections.

    During the last term break, Lloyd Elsmore pool (Howick/Highland Park) even had a large obstacle course that cost $2 actually in the free pool.

    I do concur that you couldnt charge extra for the use of the wave-function which happens for a minute or so every 10-15 in the main recreational pool at Mt Albert and Henderson.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Nick Kearney,

    Finally, yes, I am a parent. One who works and who has paid for swimming lessons for my daughter. If something is going to be free, it might be cheaper to offer free lessons to children under, say, 9 or 10, rather than free access. It might be cheaper for parents to pay for access to the pool, but for the lessons to be "free". After all, it's the lessons our children need, not access per se.

    You make a good point. There's strong public interest and benefit in the population being able to swim. Swimming lessons were provided by my public primary school but not my integrated High School. My parents arrranged/paid for me to have swimming lessons at the Manurewa and Papatoetoe public pools and later, as a teenager, I paid the small (heavily subsidised) entry fee to go to the pools and hang out with my mates.

    Investing in these publc facilities is justifiable on many bases, including developing healthy, engaged and attractive communities, the kinds of communities that encourage people to remain in NZ to enjoy high standards of living.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to recordari,

    Wearing private hat: yes, a contentious turn of phrase, but I detect a whiff of this in the rhetoric of Granny’s editorial this morning.

    It's all about allocation of resources. Orsman pointed this out in his article yesterday: some $9m went to mainly white suburbs in re-sanding their beaches - that's $9m of rates, Auckland City Council rates that is, and the last Auckland City Council spent how much on building a Glen Innes Youth centre? Doffing said hat.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I also grew up in the 80s, and remember going to the Manurewa pool and never paying a thing. Groups of children would just wander in and out with nary a cent exchanged. Maybe it was only adults who had to pay?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I believe it's one of the last school pools still going, around here. So I'm all for making public pools free, or at least free for kids.

    Edendale Primary has one, but not open after hours. They do rotational lessons during term, but it is too infrequent, and the pool a bit shallow, to be truly beneficial long term. Gladstone Primary also, and I think parents get a key to that.

    ETA: If you are statistics hungry, the EPA has an activity report that includes time spent in fresh water swimming pools, broken down by ethnic groups, age etc. See 15-65 on.

    Intrusting. Is it relevant to us? Hmm, hard to say.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    How about children free and same for an adult accompanying a child? And yes, free lessons as it's in the public interest. As for my initial comment about objectors being parents, I suppose I meant more specifically those who seriously recommend year round beach swimming as a solution. Seriously privilege-denying.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Odd. I was a teenager during the '80s.

    I certainly remember when a pay-gate was installed at Papatoetoe and, on reflection, entry must have been twenty cents or such - a coin or combination of coins anyway. Perhaps Manurewa was free. I wasn't particularly disagreeing with you but thought a small charge was levied and was, then, affordable.

    Perhaps someone knows to what extent public primary schools still have pools and provide swimming lessons as part of the normal curriculum?

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss,

    Someone who understands how these things work may be able to answer the following question: who operates the council-owned pools across Auckland and is this being looked at? Can't seem to find any information about this.

    My experience is only at Auckland City facilities which as I understand it are (all?) run by private operators on behalf of the council. Is this the same across all of Auckland and does it explain the sometimes very high cost?

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Paul Williams,

    It's possible it was children under 10, or 12, free, as I'm somewhat younger than you. A 70s baby, but only by a matter of months. Or it could simply have been that the Manurewa pool (and, thinking about it, Totara Park also) were outright free.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney,

    Ana, under the prior "system" my understanding is that each council had its own system. Some had partnership agreements with private operators (Waitakere), while others ran them themselves (North Shore).

    Another point I make concerns the dreaded "E" word - education.

    I make my daughter watch Piha Surf Rescue on Monday nights (she is morbidly attracted to it anyway, which is concerning), but she is now well aware of the dangers of the sea, and of water generally. I think that'll help in future years.

    The thing with water is not so much swimming, its confidence. Just getting kids introduced to water and to respect it and treat it (particularly the ocean) as the master is a big factor. That doesn't need free access to pools.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Ana Simkiss,

    Ana - wearing my other elected rep hat - the old Auckland City Council pools are operated by private operators - the main one being a company called CLM (Centre Leisure Management). The YMCA also operates some pools as well - they ran the Tepid Baths until it closed for renovation.

    While the companies ran the pools, admission prices were still controlled by Council. They were set according to the annual budget presented by the pool operator, but prices didn't always go up automatically year after year.

    This system operates in the Auckland City Council area - other areas had their own systems of which I don't know anything about.

    As to what system will be used across the region - well, that the job of officers to investigate. They will take some time to investigate, given the current workload, but look for something around the last half of the year. It's safe to say that they will most likely recommend the use of private operators, with admission prices controlled by Council.

    Doffing said hat.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Who still has their certificate with the wavy stylised 'dolphin' swimmer that you got each time you hit a milestone e.g. swim 50 meters non-stop?

    I saw mine about ten years ago somewhere, now most likely recycled.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss,

    Thanks Christopher and Nick for your replies. Given the different approach in the old councils I imagine a comparison of pricing and quality of facilities across the new Auckland City would be instructive.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    The only one I achieved was "Water Confidence". I want better for my children dammit!

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

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