In a first for New Zealand, Hastings District Council has teamed up with Basketball NZ, Basketball HB and Sport HB on a trial initiative to make shooting hoops more accessible for the community.
“Hoops in Parks” is a pilot programme being run in Hastings – an extension to Basketball New Zealand’s “Hoops in Schools” programme.
There are currently basketball hoops available in eight parks in Hastings district – three in Flaxmere, three in Hastings, one in Whakatu and one in Haumoana.
With new courts already laid in Kirkpatrick Park and William Nelson Park in Hastings, and the need for more sports facilities highlighted in the Flaxmere and Flaxmere West community plans, it was decided Flaxmere would be a good place to start putting in more courts.
A pilot programme to give people more places to shoot hoops in Flaxmere is on a roll, with a new court about to be built and another in the planning.
The first will be laid in Ron Giorgi III Park in May, while planning is underway for one in Flaxmere Park.
"Once the new courts are completed most of Flaxmere will be just a 10-minute walk from a brand-new full-sized basketball court; quicker if you are on a bike," said Hastings District councillor (Flaxmere) Henare O'Keefe.
To help decide where they should go, the Flaxmere community was asked last year which parks would be good locations.
A number of parks in Flaxmere West were identified, of which Ron Giorgi III has been selected. The addition of the new court will be a family-friendly extension of the existing playground, and an already raised area of ground around the play area will make great seating to watch the action. The court and playground will not be lit to discourage night-time use.
Flaxmere Park was a popular option and has also been selected. The number of activities already on that park means the planning will take a little longer, so the decision has been made to get the Ron Giorgi III Park facility underway first.
It had been intended to build a new court in Len Harlen Park, but since the consultation, nearby Kimi Ora Community School has started building a full-size court that will be available to the wider community. The Len Harlen Park court will still get attention through the ‘Hoops in Parks’ programme, however, undergoing resurfacing and line-marking.
Kimi Ora principal Matt O’Dowda said the school would have both a half-court and a full-court by the end of March. “The half-court we already have gets hammered every day at school and after school. The courts are open to all of the community and it is awesome to see it all being used.”
Mr O'Keefe said playing basketball was already a popular activity for local kids and with one court at each end of Flaxmere and one in the middle, nearly everyone would have one not too far from their home.
Flaxmere residents were asked which parks they would most like new courts to be built as well as what other facilities they would like to see at the courts.
We received almost 200 votes, with 40 per cent voting for Flaxmere Park as the next park they would like to see some community hoops in. That was consistent with community feedback on the Flaxmere Park Reserve Management Plan. Other parks that were popular were Lochain, Ron Giorgi II and Kingsley with about 10 per cent of the votes each.
The community also told us that access to seating, water and litter bins near the new courts were important as well as some shade for spectators.
We’ve also received some fantastic ideas about how the community would like to use the new courts to encourage greater participation in the sport and to stay active
The first will be laid in Ron Giorgi III Park in May, 2021.
Planning is underway for a new court in Flaxmere Park.
While this pilot project is proposed to initially concentrate on Flaxmere, if successful it could be rolled out to other communities, including Hastings’ rural communities.
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