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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 15. August 4, 1971

Sports Facilities

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Sports Facilities

The following report, by Salient Sports Editor, Peter Winter, covers firstly the present sports facilities offered at Victoria, with a brief delineation of their inadequacies. It then goes on to describe the present plans for sports facilities development, and concludes with some hopes of what will eventually emerge.

It must be pointed out that the shape of the long range plan presented is what Graeme Collins has rather pessimistically termed a "tentative concept" of what finally is hoped will eventuate!?

Acknowledgements are due to:

Alan Laidler - Head of the Physical Welfare Service.

Dr. Culliford - Assistant Principal, Victoria University.

Ian StockweI - Sports Officer, 1970....for the reports and additional information supplied by them.

It is commonly believed among the powers - that - be in our university system that we at Vic have better sports facilities than any other university in the country. And yet a good look at what this university actually has to offer those interested in sport is quite disillusioning:

(a) The gymnasium is one of this university's greatest assets, with the large floor space of its main hall, the Judo and Weight training Rooms, the Dance Room, and so on. However, present facilities in the gym are now highly inadequate to meet the demands of clubs and societies, casual students coming for recreation, and the group activities organised by the Physical Welfare staff.

The Main Hall is becoming more and more cramped not only as the student roll increases, but also with space consuming activities (such as table tennis, skiing on the artificial ski slope, and growing Karate Club activity) all going on continuously. This situation becomes even more alarming when one realizes that by 1984 double the present area of 12,000 square feet occupied by the Union Gym will be required to meet the needs of a student roll approach in 10,000 students. Already for example the weight training room is dangerously overcrowded when four or more people train at one time (which is not uncommon), and the demands laid on the trampoline, changing rooms and lockers are now such that many students are not being able to use these, their own facilities:

(b) The Tennis courts are well used throughout the year for club and recreational tennis, coaching clinics and during the winter, Netball. An increasing number of University groups are making use of the social room in the tennis pavilion. The inconvenience and expense of being forced to use Reid's Squash Centre because we have no courts of our own were outlined in a recent issue of Salient (Issue pulxl 7-7-71).

(c) One undersized Rugby field, the Boyd-Wilson Field, is the sole University playing field at present. This is the most lamentable facet of Victoria's sporting system, and surely constitutes the most pressing need for planning and development? Ian Stockwell states in his report last year that with the Boyd-Wilson Field "the Curator and his staff face an impossible task in attempting to answer to training needs of vast numbers, extremely diverse sports and overlapping seasons." This sums up well the complete inadequacy of the Body-Wilson Field.

(i) Short Term Planning;

What is being done at the moment to alleviate the problems created by lack of facilities, lack of space and lack of equipment? Feasibility studies and various reports have been drawn up and discussed. From these it seems that short term planning places direct priority, naturally, enough, on relieving the pressure on existing facilities. But coupled with this concern is the realisation that any progress made towards providing more gym space, more playing fields and so on will certainly ease the pressure, but only to a limited degree. For the growing student roll al Victoria necessitates a completely new and revitalized approach to the problem: it is not only a lack of space which is the problem, (though this is at the root of it). As we have seen by an examination of what we have a1 present, it is an amalgam of factors such is Lick of facilities and lack of equipment, as well as the overall lack of space that together constitutes the problem of inadequacy of our sporting system.

There is also a conflict of interest here Those who responsible for the administration of the gym feel that in any proposed short term planning there must be emphasis on Gymnasium development. Their argument is strong: playing fields cater in the main for evening and weekend activities, the gym is used to saturation by students who take exercise as part of the ordinary University day. But the counter argument put forward by such people as the administrators of the Rugby Club is Just as strong people who prefer team sports, and wish donate their time and energy to them, and thus to then university, should not be hampered by lack of space and poor facilities.

Both sides must be provided for; the one cannot be allowed to overrule the other.

Pole Hill Gully - 2 Rugby Fields 2 Hockey Fields and a Gym

Pole Hill Gully - 2 Rugby Fields 2 Hockey Fields and a Gym

Firstly then, let us consider the short-term development of the gym. It appears little can be done to ease the situation unless there is an increase in floor space in the near future; "re-organisation of the existing facilities can no longer solve the problems." Consequently an immediate start on expansion must be made to the existing Union Gymnasium.

The facilities set out below will provide short term relief from the pressure on the gym in the following four areas:
(i)Short-term relief from existing pressures on the Main Hall.
(ii)Some increase in the range of physical activities carried out.
(iii)Relief from pressure on ancillary space.
(iv)Space for more members on the Physical Welfare Staff, and for better working conditions for the existing staff.

(a) There is a consensus of opinion in all reports that the first stages should take the form of a multi-purpose area, with a floor sue in the region of 50' × 60'. This hall would be used for such activities as gymnastics, judo, fencing, karate, tabletennis, trampolining and dance. The ceiling height would be an important consideration, as trampoline activity necessitates a stud height of up to 20' yet a relatively intimate atmosphere is required for dance. It can be seen that these dimensions are based on the liklihood of two or more activities going on at the same time. Factors such as acoustics, lighting, heating, access to the associated music rooms and equipment storage room, and reasonably easy access to the changing rooms are all important in the planning of any such extension.

In what direction the gym should be extended will be discussed below, at the end of this section and also under the long-term planning section of this report.

(b) As part of the same first stage should be established a permanently laid artificial ski slope of about 4,500 square feet. This is structurally possible, but as it is stated in the report on union facilities to the Management Committee, the shape of the slope would depend on the size of the gymnasium extensions and the gradients that are possible. 'Ideally there should be two gradients in the region of 20 degrees and 5 degrees. The lengths and shapes of the slopes will depend on how the architect can relate the ski area to the terrain AND the size of the building as whole," (see plan diagram) [1]

(c) A snack bar seating up to 50 people would be desirable to be incorporated into the general extension plan. If this is not possible, then the existing Dance Room could be converted into such a snack bar, Ideally, this area should have an extension onto a belcony overlooking the multi-purpose hall, the Ski-slope, the Mam Hall or the Harbour. It must, of course, be accompanied by a small kitchen.

(d) The men's toilets and changing rooms are at present used to their utmost capacity, and will be nowhere near large enough to cope with the increased usage resulting from the enlarged facilities. Either an extension of the existing areas or the provision of new areas would be acceptable. It is estimated that the area required would be somewhere in the vicinity of 700 square feet. The existing women's changing room and toilet should be adequate to cope with the increased usage. In addition to the lockers in the changing room further provision would be required for at least 300 more lockers, of varying sizes.

(e) The present gym officers are working under very cramped and quite uncomfortable conditions. With the growth of student numbers and the increased range of facilities it will be necessary to provide offices for two further members of the Physical Welfare staff. A head storekeeper will also have to have his own office in the building. Moreover, a clinic room of about 200 square fee adjacent to the staff area is proposed, to be used for examination, treatment or remedial work with individual students or small groups of students, as a first aid room, and on occasions as an office.

(vi) Rifle Range, Golf, Archery, and Cricket practice are desirable, but of lower priority than the facilities described above. If necessary all these activities could be incorporated into one main area. If this concept is not feasible in short-term planning, then it may be possible to include up to three squash courts. Consideration should be given to housing these facilities in conjunction with the ski slope if this proved feasible, or in the basement of the building if this is not possible.

These are the proposed short-term developments. The urgency of putting the general extension scheme described above into practice cannot be over-emphasised there is a real need for such work as the function of the Gymnasium complex increases. There are several further points to be remembered in the light of what already has been said:

The planning of the new multi-purpose Hall should take into account the spectator value of many of the sports such a hall will provide. Many of the reports omit to take into account spectator accomodation.


The completion of such a hall would fit into the proposed extension of recreational floor area towards the approximate target area of 24,000 square feet as the student roll nears 10,000. Where are these extensions to be built?

There appears to be some advantages in building on the northern end of the existing [unclear: Gymnas:] it presents a few structural problems and it would be a step towards "taking the gymnasium to join the union.' (see section under "long-term planning") On the other hand it is possible to build out to the east and down from the present gymnasium. Such building could be started earlier an would take place on terrain which would lend itself well to construction of a suitable ski slope, for example. Moreover, it would be best to utilize all spare ground available, in order to build quickly and with the minimum of bother, leaving more complicated construction to long-term planning. There is a pressing need for immediate relief of existing facilities, and this is the major point of any recent report on Victoria's situation re available facilities.


The Final general feature to be stressed is that the general internal appearance of the extension should be steered away from the traditional spartan gymnastic approach to promote a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Alan Laidler has stated his keenness "to soften the image of the Gymnasium as a sweet and toil centre" and his wish to see, at an early stage in any extension, "a facility designed to foster social relationships and conversation." [2]

That then, is an adequate converage of the proposed short-term gym upgrading. It is to be hoped that the proposing stops and the acting begins by the end of this year at the latest.

Secondly under short-term planning must be considered the absence at this university, of playing fields and page break the facilities that generally accompany them. As mentioned earlier, the Boyd-Wilson field is the only University playing field. This lack of outdoor facilities is serious, and to the detriment of such university sports as rugby, athletics, soccer, hockey and cricket. Three showers in the confined changing sheds of the Boyd—Wilson field serve any and all the teams which may be using the field at any one time! Again, almost every rugby club in Wellington has a large area devoted to changing and showering facilities adjacent to their own playing fields; Victoria is so poorly equipped in this respect that visiting teams playing our teams must play on Kelburn Park where there are no showering facilities at all. The ideal solution seems to be the early establishment of new playing fields, in order to remove the heavy wear and tear of match play and excessive team-practice usage from the Boyd—Wilson area. It could then be gradually converted into an all-weather multi-purpose facility. There are however, a number of objections to this scheme:
(i)The future value of the area for building purposes.
(ii)The cost involved for both converting the Boyd-Wilson field, and for developing new and better fields.

The objections to the conversion of Boyd Wilson do not appear insurmountable. The resilience of all-weather surfaces offsets the resulting high cost of maintenance, for it would assuredly meet the great demand of a variety of sports clubs. Besides, it is highly desirable to keep an outdoor training area close to the centre of campus so that students may use it during a normal university day, all the year round. The serious difficulty with the present field is that some months are wasted between the winter and summer seasons as resowing etc. is necessary after extensive winter usage.

The fitness training skills of rugb, soccer, hockey, athletics and other sports would be better catered for by the new surface, and given this and other advantages most of the sports clubs would readily accept that there were many compensations even if they did have other playing fields developed by the university some distance away from the campus.

Boyd Wilson Mud.

Boyd Wilson Mud.

The conversion of Boyd—Wilson would mean a greater provision for sports at Victoria, and that all sport could become concentrated on the campus. There is enough room for this concentration provided development of more playing fields accompanies the conversion of Boyd-Wilson "If in fact part of the Boyd-Wilson area must be sacrificed to future building schemes, it is to be hoped that at least some of it will be retained as a training facility or, preferably, that losses to such schemes will be balanced by extension of the present playing area on to adjacent land unsuitable for buildings."

Just what land is available for the development of playing fields? The university owns a total of 115 acres in the Polhill Gully area, at the top of Hollaway Road, (which runs off Aro Street). This land is comprised of near vertical slopes which would make any development difficult and expensive. At present it is proposed that many parts will eventually be levelled to provide 70 acres of flat land. At this stage it is envisaged that a series of platforms will be made, one tier providing for two Rugby fields, another for two soccer fields, and a third will contain two hockey fields. Another containing suitable facilities for athletes will also be sited here. Associated with these will be a gymnasia complex, complete with changing rooms etc. There will also be a new parking area made available here, for approximately 1,000 cars. This area is only about fifteen minutes walk from the University and it is planned to have a shuttle bus service operating to and from the campus.

All this however, has been included in the long-range proposals of the relevant reports. Yet such a complex is vital to the healthy growth of Victoria, and planning must be brought forward so that building can begin as quickly as possible. (For this reason I have included it in the section devoted to "short-term planning"). Here is an ideal situation for the application of imagination and energy by the administrators of this university, and they should show no, delay in pressing ahead with such urgent requirements.

In fact, all that short range planning has recommended is desperately needed and must be completed before any long-term scheme can be enacted.

Long-Term Plans

Any immediate developments, such as those described above, should be in harmony with the wider overall building plans for the future. Ideally long-term development should be reconciliable with the previous short-term provements.

The 1962-85 Report refers to the land fronting the western side of Wai-te-ata Road (i.e. in the vicinity of the seaward side of R.B.) as being ideally suited to the needs an indoor swimming pool Such a pool could be erected on this site as fundamental part of a new Union complex in which recreational, social, service and other facilities are combined.

"At present the facilities for physical recreation are somewhat isolated from the rest of the university including the Union and although the situation will improve as in time the centre of gravity of the university moves south, it will improve even more if some of the sports facilities can be housed under the same roof as other Union type facilities, and if the Gymnasium(s) can be assimilated into the circulatory systems of the University, so that pedestrians may flow through as well as past buildings housing recreational facilities At best there should be ease of movement from places of work to places of recreation (including refreshment) and at least there should be easy and comfortable access linking all the Union buildings..." [3] These few lines by Alan Laidler concisely sum up the plan which has been labelled "taking the gym to the union" by university authorities. The plan shown with this article illustrates the concept in its entirety, and offers a glimpse of the university in the (distant) future. One can see that this long-range plan is designed in such a way that construction can proceed stage by stage, and so the problem of finance is spread and can be overcome comparatively easily. It is an ambitious plan, but an imaginative and exciting one which conforms to the idea that any further building on the campus must be such that it fits into the architectural pattern already established. Haphazard planning in the past has led to Victoria being termed "the worst architectural square mile in New Zealand!".

[unclear: s] present the Gymnasium has lettle to commend it aesthetically, yet it occupies a prominent position. Much could be done architecturally, if the building were extended, to improve appearances with the execution of a unified plan for the whole of that area between the present union and the present gymnasium.

This long-term plan proves for:

(i) Swimming Pool

This is the first and most important priority. Such a pool would be heated, and have associated change rooms etc. There is a singular shortage of pools in Wellington, and though an Olympic sized one would be ideal, it is' not absolutely necessary. Swimming is a popular sport among students generally, both from the social point of view and from its therapeutic values, and such a pool would greatly enhance Victoria's sporting facilities, (Previously swimming activities have been carried out at the Thorndon Pool). This pool would be used both for learning and for competition purposes, and would be available to outside groups for use. Because of Wellington's weather and the fact that the University term does not include most of the summer season it is commonsense that the pool be so placed, indoors, and heated, in order to get full use from it.

(ii) A rifle (cum archery, cum cricket, cum golf) range:

It can be seen that the plan also allows for the establishment of a complex such as this one. Shooting in particular has always produced strong representation from Victoria and is also a sport where women and those with physical disabiliites can participate on equal terms. If the area so provided was large enough it could be used for cricket, archery and golf practices. Supplementary to the normal outdoor activities of these sports. (Sports such as golf are seriously hampered by having to use the gym as it is now, for practice.) The same room could also house table tennis.

(iii) Squash Centre:

As shown in a previous issue of Salient, even with the existence of the John Reid Squash Courts so close to the campus, and their heavy patronage, members of the University should have their own courts available for use.

(iv) Included in this construction plan is a cluster of smaller buildings (designed to offset architectually the Rankine Brown building and this new recreational complex) all linked together and seeing the various needs of Student Welfare services.

(v) Multi-purpose areas and associated changing rooms etc are all included in this "tentative concept" Interspersed with the many sports facilities are facilities for cultural pursuits such as music, drama, painting, pottery, coffee-drinking and so on.

This plan then, allows for a bringing-together of the various cultural and sporting i.e. recreational, pursuits of any student body. Its joining together such aspects of university life as the library, administration area, and so on, as well as these pursuits, is talented and far-reaching planning, (covered ways would be used to link external buildings to this complex: such covered ways are used extensively at the Universities of Auckland and Islum, where they have proved ideal in rapid, weather-proof communication). This "linking together" is the best characteristic of this plan, which again must be stressed is stricktly long-term and tentative.


In the conclusion of his report, Ian Stockwell has stated that it appears that "facilities for sports at Victoria University will not be significantly improved for a considerable period of time." And it is a fact that nothing really concrete has yet emerged from a welter of reports and planning: it is interesting that Alan Laidler was asking for "immediate" extensions to the gym late in 1969.

This delay however, is not only a result of tardiness and short-sightedness on the part of the previous administrators. The major factor responsible is, (as generally is the case in matters such as these), a lack of finance. This itself is no doubt a function of 'Muldoonism" at its worst-students should be seen as training to be productive non entities; sports training or even recreational sport is thus simply superfluous to the major role of every "successful' student should be undertaking. (I guess it boils down to one's definition of "productive").

Consequently student Bodies are constantly being restricted in their development, if their function is irrelevant to the prime concerns of a Government whose record shows a marked lack of appreciation for the values of a broad education. Not every student body can overcome this restriction. In a sense, the club rooms recently built by Victoria's rugby club show that with initiative and application things can be achieved despite a lack of direct financial help from Governmental sources.

The overlap between short-term improvement and long-term developments is not easy to avoid. Therefore any initial building should, ideally, be in keeping with the overall future plans. It is heartening to see that a harmonious blending of both these spheres of planning is guaranteed by the planners, who appear determined to unify their designs so that the land surrounding the buildings is not completely desecrated. There is a feeling at the moment that Victoria University needs beautifying, with gardens, trees and so on, and it is obvious that the University planners share this feeling; Universities are not meant to consist of ugly dismal buildings which lack beauty and atmosphere.

From a short term point of view, hopes look like becoming reality reasonably soon. We can look forward to a more efficient and roomy gymnasium. How about the long term hopes of those interested in the growth of Victoria? As Ian Stockwell puts it:

"Great value is seen...in a future Student Union complex of facilities which is designed to house together groups meeting for cultural, social, musical, dramatic, artistic and (physical) recreational purposes. There will for many years be need for the exisiting type of large sports halls and for teaching rooms, but it is likely that in the future there will be increased demands for the type of facility which could well be incorporated into the Union complex mentioned."

One can only hope that such a building program will be undertaken in the not-too-distant future.

1.from: "Report on The Sports Facilities at Victoria University" presented at A.G.M. NZUSA. 23-24 May 1970, by Ian Stockwell, Sports Officer. VUWSA.
2.from athe Report on the "Physical Recreational Facilities at VUW." by Alan Laidler, Head of Physical Welfare Service December 1969.
3.Report on "Additional Union Facilities", Nov. 1970.