Taupo’s new world-class indoor facility is a step closer to completion, and that makes plenty of people very happy. One of those is ESNZ high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout who sees the development as an integral part to the growth of New Zealand’s up-and-coming equestrian combinations.
“Having international quality resources in New Zealand – facilities, surfaces, jumps, officials and coaches – is absolutely critical to our high performance programmes,” says Dalziell-Clout.
“We will be looking to further develop these areas as part of our system going forward. Providing our riders and horses with access to world-class resources is essential to their development and to bridging the gap between New Zealand and the international scene.”
She has plenty of praise for Wallie Niederer, the convenor of the centre’s committee, and his team.
“They have made an immense effort to date,” she said. “Walking through the structure is both awe-inspiring and exciting. The scope for training and competition with the new indoor centre will be significant, particularly with a surface that is of international quality.”
The Equestrian Centre of Excellence, at the Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centre, comprises a 75m x 42m indoor arena, which is enclosed in a 75m x 58m building. The footing in the indoor is the same used at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
“We did a lot of research on footing before going with the UK company Andrews Bowen,” says Niederer. “We talked to as many people as we could and everyone thought the surface at London was fantastic.”
Sand from quarries around the region was sent to the UK for testing to find the right one to blend with the 9.5 tonnes of fibre currently being shipped to New Zealand along with one of Andrews Bowen grooming machines.
The best match in sand came from Cambridge, and the centre will need between 450-600 tonnes, depending on the depth of the surface.
Planning for the new 3500 square metre facility started in 2013. The arena was created four years ago and used as an outdoor until funds had been raised and the green light given to the project.
That fundraising – of $2 million – has been the biggest challenge for a very dedicated committee. To date $1.8 million has been raised and efforts continue as they inch towards that final total. However, Niederer cautions they may need a little more to cope with cost overruns.
“This is a world-class state-of-the-art facility that will make Taupo the high performance centre for equestrian sport – just like the Avanti Dome for cycling in Cambridge,” he says. “It will attract top international coaches as well has hosting world-class events across the disciplines.”
For Niederer to see the building take shape has been amazing. “It is hard to conceive how big it is when you look at it on paper, but to see it grow is just fantastic.”
The building is now totally enclosed and the mezzanine floor constructed. Joinery will be going in this week.
The search continues for a naming rights sponsor, and Niederer says there is plenty of opportunity for others too. “There are a heap of signage opportunities inside the building and with live streaming being used as extensively as it is today, it offers great exposure for those who support the centre.”
The Taupo community are already looking to hire it for non-equestrian events, and it is hoped that will generate a revenue stream for the centre.
The centre currently hosts more than 20 national and regional equestrian events a year. It was created in 1974 and has been a true labour of love for so many people over the years. “It is exciting to be taking things to this next level, and future-proofing the centre for generations to come,” said Niederer.
While an exact date of completion is yet to be announced, it is likely to be in the spring.
Last week Wallie Neiderer was able to take Matt McKerrow from Sport NZ, who has contributed significantly to the project, and Graeme Thom ESNZ’s newly appointed Eventing High Performance Manager who a tour of how construction is progressing.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law