Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Floating the idea

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  • Sacha, in reply to Sam F,

    is the inner harbour generally cleaner than in years past (with sewer separation work et cetera)?

    The awesome Project Twin Streams probably had some impact on the upper reaches too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    Transport is a big, big problem for many families if there isn't a suitable local pool.

    From the headline "Give the kids a bus to our big free pool", I assumed the Herald editorial was going to suggest investing in removing those transport barriers, but then it didn't really.

    In my experience back when most children walked to their local school, the pool became a social hub during summer with simple key rental schemes to manage access and reliance on the oversight of older kids or parent. I understand tighter health and safety regulations have fuelled the closures.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I love love love Christchurch beaches, they are a huge asset for the city: full of natural sand and great waves. Sadly, they're only swimable without a wetsuit in the hottest part of summer. We really need our pools to learn to swim in. And also education sessions about dealing with rips and river crossings and the like.

    I also think tourists and new immigrants should have compulsory water-safety instruction. I was alarmed when my Irish flatmate, newly-arrived in NZ, described to me almost getting caught in a rip while swimming at Scarborough beach, (Scarborough often has a rip on the outgoing tide, which locals know to be wary of) and I had to explain to her what it was and what to do if she was caught in one. She'd never even heard the term "rip" before.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    How about children free and same for an adult accompanying a child? And yes, free lessons as it's in the public interest.

    This is what they have at Pt Erin, I've been going for a couple of weeks. My wife got in free, because she was a "non-swimming guardian", meaning she was basically looking after my 1-year old. Both the under 5s got in free, and I had to pay for myself. So the whole family cost under $5. Awesomeness.

    The predominant color of people there was brown, btw, despite Pt Erin being in St Mary's Bay. There were also many young white families.

    if you don't like the idea of your non-sandy beach actually being a freaking mudflat or estuary, then... i don't know what. book in for a reality check somewhere...

    Well, Pt Chev was not used by very many people before it got sanded. Now it gets used a lot. I think that's a good thing, personally. I use it a lot, because a mudflat or an estuary is not a good place to go swimming. They're unpleasant and dangerous. There's literally hundreds of those within 10 km of my house, and only one good sandy beach - Pt Chev. Every day I've been this summer there have been hundreds of people there. My son has become considerably more confident in the water there, and asks to go frequently.

    As for learning to swim, I think lessons are certainly righteous, but that has to be consolidated with lots of time in the water. Free pools (for children at least, and possibly for adults accompanied by children) are a fantastic idea. I learned to swim at Boystown (now Youthtown), consolidated it with a lot of time at Pt Erin and The Teps, and also the Herne Bay coastline, and Waiheke. But it was definitely the pools where I actually learned to swim, you can't do it at a beach. You can, however learn to swim in the sea after you've learned to swim in a pool.

    Water safety isn't only about being able to swim, of course. It's a basic education issue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to BenWilson,

    I love love love Christchurch beaches, they are a huge asset for the city: full of natural sand and great waves. Sadly, they're only swimable without a wetsuit in the hottest part of summer. We really need our pools to learn to swim in.

    Lilith, I lived in Sumner for about a year, it's one of my favourite beaches, but I completely agree with your point about the weather/temp.

    This is what they have at Pt Erin, I've been going for a couple of weeks. My wife got in free, because she was a "non-swimming guardian", meaning she was basically looking after my 1-year old. Both the under 5s got in free, and I had to pay for myself. So the whole family cost under $5. Awesomeness.

    That's comparable to the deal we had for my 5 year old at another local pool, the Ian Thorpe Acquatic Centre. I should say that in my entirely personal comparison of Sydney and NZ, I think swimming is much more popular here not least of all since the weather's warmer...

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    This is what they have at Pt Erin, I've been going for a couple of weeks. My wife got in free, because she was a "non-swimming guardian", meaning she was basically looking after my 1-year old.

    I was thinking more that the adult would be swimming. My 18 month old (or 3 year old for that matter) certainly wouldn't want to get in without me. Pt Erin is nice but it's a summer only facility isn't it?

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    We learnt to actually swim at Gemmell's Crossing but practised at Moeraki round in the bay, and the quieter reaches of North Beach. The school baths came later.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Dubber,

    Having just been in Auckland for a spot of summer, where I enjoyed a lovely swim at Pt Chev as well as a few free swims with my nephews in the pool at Lloyd Elsmore, I returned to Birmingham - one of your cold climate, non-beachy parts of the world.

    Yesterday, I went down to my local council-run Leisure Centre (that's what they're called here), which has in the last year been made free. The Leisure Centre has a very good family pool, which is now entirely free at all times to card-holding council tax payers - and in off-peak hours, the gym facilities are also completely free. Likewise swimming lessons, aerobics classes, pilates, spin classes and so on.

    When they introduced this scheme, we were all pretty astonished. This is neither typical of councils in the UK, nor of Birmingham City Council in particular. In fact, it's fair to say that this is not simply the magnanimous gesture of a well-funded, benevolent and enlightened City Council. They simply did the maths on the cost of ongoing healthcare in the community, and weighed that up against the overall advantages of having a less sedentary populace - and then took the plunge, as it were.

    And while, as you might expect, it turns out that when you do make things free, people use the facilities more, that's not necessarily a burden on resources. In fact, the staff who have to be there during opening hours actually now have something to do - include teach water safety and basic swimming lessons to a bunch of people who live nowhere near the sea, but may one day visit somewhere with a nice coast.

    And the mix of elderly patrons and young families from my local area (along with the odd person like me who has the privilege of managing their own diary) - all splashing about in the water - felt about as close to the idea of a community as you're likely to get around these parts. And that seems like a good and proper thing for councils to be interested in.

    Umeå, Sweden • Since Nov 2006 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    Who taught you to swim Islander? My dad has his story of how he learnt to swim. He grew up in Riga, Latvia and during WW2 when he was 7 or so he was sent to the country to stay with family. They sent him off by himself, a city kid, down to the river to teach himself to swim. He is quite surprised he survived that, in retrospect.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Tamara,

    The bad old days, Tamara. We always had pools when I was growing up, and since we were a yachting family, my father was very keen that we learn to swim as soon as possible. I believe - and this may be urban myth - that Dad would basically throw us in the deep end of our pool, and see if we sank or swum. I'm fairly sure, on reflection, that he probably got in the water with us. But either way, we started swimming very, very young, and were also sent to swimming lessons, basically to get our strokes right. (Hauraki Cnr, as I remember it, although I have no idea what the swim school's name was.) It amazes me, still, when I hear about adults being unable to swim. It's just one of those things that I have always thought was a key survival skill.
    And as for Pt Chev beach....it's basically an inner city area and it affords families from central and west Auckland who would not otherwise have the opportunity, to go to the beach, where it's safe for kids, and where there's a fantastic park on hand for games and BBQs and the like. Why would that ever be a bad thing?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    We still operate and maintain our school pool which in Hawkes Bay is a neccessity in February. It is at great cost to our operating budget however and it is understandable that some schools are closing theirs down. The health and safety regulations and constant monitoring of water quality is also a reason for schools to opt out. As a teacher I feel less than qualified to teach swimming and have always felt less than effective because I can't get in the pool with the kids. That said I'm happy that at our school all children swim every day for at least 5 -6 weeks of term 1 and 2-3 weeks of term 4 but then our weather certainly helps. On a related note State Ins. and Swimming NZ are doing a concerted push on professional development for schools with swimming teaching and the good news for us is that is all free.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Tamara,

    Basically 'the adults' - I have only shadowy memories but they are of a nice series of floating adults somewhere close- and water -river or sea -it all was such fun! I picked up breast-stroke immediately, hated dogpaddling, and only learnt overarm (which I also disliked) at primary school. I discovered for myself an unconventional backstroke - which was great, but which was basically hauling myself through the waters with my strong young arms & quite powerful shoulders (the legs wouldnt co-ordinate.)

    And Tamara - Riga! Courtesy of another person born in Latvia, I've become addicted to smoked Riga sprats...mind you, I think your father's caretakers were absolutely lacking care-giving-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    It amazes me, still, when I hear about adults being unable to swim.

    I learnt to swim last year, after being given a voucher for lessons by a friend. I do remember having lessons at school, and I also remember staying in the "kickers" class for some years and getting progressively older than my classmates. The lessons just never stuck.

    Now we are dealing with our 9yo son who, despite in-school and private lessons over the last 3 years or so, still refuses to put his head under water; so maybe it's genetic. Although our 6yo daughter is taking to it with an ease which is typical of her.

    Good Shepherd School in Balmoral has a (tiny) school pool still; we got a key for the summer for $50, although we're not allowed to use it between 7pm and 7am (so much for my dream of practising my new-found skill before or after work!).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    This is what they have at Pt Erin, I’ve been going for a couple of weeks. My wife got in free, because she was a “non-swimming guardian”, meaning she was basically looking after my 1-year old. Both the under 5s got in free, and I had to pay for myself. So the whole family cost under $5. Awesomeness.

    I think Pt Erin dodged a bullet several years ago when it was going to be turned into a leisure centre more in keeping with the desires of the wealthy folk who live around it, but for some reason stayed as pools.

    And yes, for as long as I've been going, there have always been lots of brown folks there, as families. But I was quietly glad to stop going -- it seems less fun when you're not there with young children, and it's certainly not as relaxing as jumping on my bike and riding down to the beach for a dip.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andrew Dubber,

    They simply did the maths on the cost of ongoing healthcare in the community, and weighed that up against the overall advantages of having a less sedentary populace - and then took the plunge, as it were.

    And that's what has been missing here - any agency taking responsiblity for the overall costs and benefits.

    I can imagine a fruitful long-term partnership between the Auckland Council, the region's District Health Boards, relevant national organisations like MSD and SPARC, and specialist swimming, recreation and public health NGOs and businesses.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oddly enough, ours has been stable for three summers now. Your chances of me conceding your point are basically zero.

    good thing i was merely expressing dismay. a point would have had more substance that, "i'm agin it!"

    i will however concede your argument about the public utility of the $9million price tag.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    And the mix of elderly patrons and young families from my local area (along with the odd person like me who has the privilege of managing their own diary) - all splashing about in the water - felt about as close to the idea of a community as you're likely to get around these parts.

    That has been a really nice thing about Pt Erin and Pt Chev beach. People watching, casual conversations, seeing whole families (we're talking BIG families) having picnics, watching all the kids diving into the deep pool (good to see the fine art of bombing is still alive and well), running into friends. When I was a kid we'd go swimming en masse and lots of the other local kids were there.

    And that seems like a good and proper thing for councils to be interested in.

    I think so.

    Tony, I think that except for very wealthy schools, having an exclusive pool is not cost effective. But the Mt Albert model is good, that a public pool integrates with a school. Then professional swim teachers are available, the pool is a good standard, it's much more fun, it's safer to get to, and it doesn't run at such a loss.

    I'm very glad to hear the primary I'm sending my son to this year is doing exactly this, building a pool in conjunction with the council. My guess is that the place will be packed, because the school is right on the major bus interchange for all the kids at Avondale High. Also, the train station.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    i learned to swim in the surf at mount maunganui, in the days when we could toddle off down the beach by ourselves.

    to echo someone else, amazed we survived that.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    building a pool in conjunction with the council.

    Avondale along with Otahuhu were the suburbs most notably shafted by previous Auckland City Councils refusing to fund public pools with solid business cases while readily sanding aforementioned beaches.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Jamieson,

    Beach resanding is necessary in Auckland largely because the natural beach processes have been broken by a combination of hard structures along the back of the beaches and other interference with natural sediment movements.

    In a natural state, beaches are subject to sediment movement on various scales of time and space, depending on the local shore morphology, currents and the wave energy environment. On Auckland's eastern beaches, most of the original sand has been locked up behind seawalls and under roads. This is probably most obvious at Okahu Bay, where Tamaki Drive conspicuously follows the old natural dune ridge at the back of the beach. In these areas, the sand can no longer move around seasonally, or with storm events as it would have on an intact beach with unmodified dunes. Natural sand sources from erosion and long shore drift have also been reduced.

    One of the key things that's assisted the success of the resanding efforts at Mission Bay, Kohimarama and St Heliers is the judicious placement of cleverly disguised groynes, that prevent the sand moving along shore and away from the desired location on the beach.

    I'm very uneasy about the environmental consequences of shifting huge volumes from one of Auckland's most natural coastlines (Pakiri), but absolutely love walking down for swim at a sandy Mission Bay or Kohi. At least in these situations, the original beaches were in fact sandy. There seem to be a growing number of locations with residents demanding the construction of sandy beaches where none ever existed.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    There seem to be a growing number of locations with residents demanding the construction of sandy beaches where none ever existed.

    Damned Parisians :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    There seem to be a growing number of locations with residents demanding the construction of sandy beaches where none ever existed.

    Hey, Alastair's ever so politely calling you out Mr Brown... but'srriously, thanks for the very helpful post Alastair.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I can't tell you about the Waitemata, but silting from farming-induced erosion is a major problem on the Manukau. Places which were sandy beaches 20 years ago are now muddy flats. I'm not happy about the people still ruining my harbour.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm personally not that bitter on terraforming beaches with extra sand, when they will be used by thousands upon thousands of human beings. Auckland has vast quantities of human-unusable coast where the natural wildlife can do it's thing. I'm surrounded by on all sides by the stuff, noisome mangrove swamps, where humans furtively arrive mostly to dump rubbish, and native flora and fauna gets on with doing its own terraforming, without any moral scruples. I don't really have any objection at all to very small percentages of the stuff being used by my own species for recreation.

    Pt Chev may have been a lovely oyster covered muckpile fit especially for certain shellfish when I was a child, but I didn't really need to go there for that - I had miles of the stuff stretching from the bridge all the way to Te Atatu. On both sides of Pt Chev, the natural state continues, I know this because I had to wade through the horrible stuff rescuing my conked out boat a few weeks ago. There's more than enough slime covered oystery rocks there for anyone who wants to reminisce about the wonders of nature. Curiously I was alone in this endeavor, except for a guy fishing, yet when I got to Pt Chev beach the half-kilometer walk of shame in front of about a thousand people was at least alleviated by giving my cut feet a bit of a rest, before I plowed onward to the next beach with a boat ramp into, you guessed it, slime covered mud flats, which continue on all the way to the Northwestern Motorway. On the other side of the motorway is a particularly lovely example of a mangrove swamp, which almost never has any humans in it at all, because power boats are not allowed and it's an unsavoury place to swim with a very strong tidal flow. There is about 10 km of coastline in there that never sees any humans at all. Keep following the coast along the motorway, for several kilometers of totally deserted coastline, inaccessible except by kayak, and you come to Te Atatu Peninsular, which is mostly, yes, mud flats and mangroves. Or you can go up the Whau Creek, which is 100% mud flats and mangroves. There's really no shortage. I spend a lot of time in these places, they're all on my favourite bike routes and humans are a notably absent species everywhere. It's a weird thing about the modern instantiation of our species that this is considered a wonderful thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    There seem to be a growing number of locations with residents demanding the construction of sandy beaches where none ever existed.

    It appears that you can count Pt Chevalier beach out of that, then. I've read Keith Sinclair waxing lyrical about his childhood days there.

    And I did an image search and found this absolutely amazing picture of the beach in the 20s.

    It appears that there used to be a hell of a lot of natural sand there. Far, more, indeed, than there is now. What happened? Or were they re-sanding 90 years ago?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

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