Eastern Institute of Technology trades students have been helping Gisborne Tairāwhiti Rugby League upgrade Awapuni Sports Stadium.
The condition of the facility has deteriorated over time and the building has become unsafe. GTRL chairwoman Wanita Tuwairua-Brown said the stadium was in an appalling state and in need of some ‘TLC’.
“Basically I would always cringe walking into the stadium, as it has so much potential, and I thought ‘bugger it, we need to do something’.
“So we started with working bees on Sundays where we began by cleaning out and removing rubbish.
“We have since removed over 1000 staples, prepped and painted walls, rafters and trusses, and gutted toilet areas as we aim for a standard where the venue can be utilised.
“The vision is to provide a space where our rangatahi (youth) are safe, feel proud and have an adequate place to host other teams,” she said.
EIT Tairāwhiti carpentry tutor Ben Stevenson said the students were helping do up the stadium’s changing rooms as part of their foundation skills level 2 (carpentry) course.
“The changing rooms were originally covered with hardboard and were easily damaged.
“We stripped all this because of all the holes and replaced it with plywood donated by JNL (Gisborne wood processing company). “We have 14 students — a mix of ethnicities aged from 17 to 50 years old. It is a pathway course that really boosts literacy and numeracy.
“It was a perfect job for us because this course consciously makes it a priority to support community groups,” he said.
Mrs Tuwairua-Brown said they started the clean-up mission for the love of the game “but as we all know, rugby league is more than just a game”.
“It has been a collective whanau effort, with a great response from volunteers and through fundraisers, particularly from family and friends (even those in Australia), past and present league players and local businesses.
“We have had paint donated by the Mayor,and Bunnings, Warehouse, scaffolding from Gisborne Scaffolding, toilets and more from Hato Paul, plywood from Juken Ltd and plumbing contributions from Seeka.
“There are still some building materials that we have not been able to source like plywood for our changing room facilities and our stadium ceiling. These are essential to the success of this project. There is so much more to do and we cannot do it alone.”
Story by Luisa Knight/ Gisborne Herald and Pictures by Liam Clayton/ Gisborne Herald