Water Polo continues to be one of New Zealand’s fastest growing sports and North Harbour Water Polo Club is no different.
The club, then known as NorthSport Water Polo Club and training at Glenfield Aquatic Centre, moved to AUT Millennium in 2002 when the facility first opened.
The move would see the club become a Foundation Organisation of AUT Millennium, along with North Harbour Bays Athletics, NorthSport Olympic Weightlifting, North Shore Swimming and Rangitoto College.
The four Foundation Clubs have become the most successful in New Zealand for their respective sports.
North Harbour Water Polo Business Development Manager, Sharon Geary, explains that the club makes significant contributions to the sport in New Zealand.
“North Harbour Water Polo is now one of New Zealand’s premier water polo clubs, and one of the most significant contributors to the growth of New Zealand’s water polo talent.”
The club’s contribution to New Zealand includes 152 New Zealand representatives at senior level since 2002 and now boasts over 1500 active players and 56 coaches and referees.
North Harbour Water Polo’s move to AUT Millennium brought with it tremendous growth for the sport, so much so that by 2011 the club could no longer accommodate an increase to its membership base.
With pool space in the original 50m Olympic-sized pool at capacity due to AUT Millennium programmes, high performance programmes, North Shore Swimming and other users, the club was unable to grow.
Geary says it was a good problem to have and highlighted how far the club had come since 2002.
“From 2011 we were unable to increase our membership and grow the sport due to lack of pool space.”
“The opening of the National Aquatic Centre in August 2015 allowed the North Harbour Water Polo to increase their pool hours each week, growing the club’s operations significantly.”
That growth is significant at the youth level. In 2005 the club had 254 primary, intermediate and junior college children playing water polo. In 2017 that number is now approximately 1200.
“The opening of the new aquatic centre allowed us to introduce a water polo programme for intermediate aged children which now boasts 300 children, as well as over 700 children coming every Sunday afternoon to enjoy our sport in the shallow pools,” says Geary.
The club has also been able to increase its coaching programmes, which is an important area of development to assist with the large numbers of new members in the club.
For some water polo members, the sport allows them to keep fit or join the Saturday afternoon social league.
Geary says that the move to AUT Millennium has allowed the club to build a tight-knit community of people, young and old.
“It is fantastic to be involved in a community of sports clubs and organisations dedicated to helping Kiwis keep fit and healthy and succeeding in sport. We’re looking forward to the next 15 years!”