Long before Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, now AUT Millennium, was built in 2002, an athletics club existed.
North Harbour Bays Athletics Club is not just one of the most successful athletics clubs, it is arguably one of the most successful clubs of any sport in New Zealand.
In 2013, the Club celebrated its 60th Jubilee and its contributions to athletics and New Zealand sport as a whole cannot be ignored.
Each year it consistently produces more New Zealand representatives and wins more medals at national championships than any other athletics club.
Bays Athletics began life as two separate entities, coming together for the greater good. The Club is the blueprint for AUT Millennium: the recognition that organisations can come together and build something stronger.
The East Coast Bays Amateur Athletics Club began life in 1951 at Freyberg Park in Browns Bay and was formed by a group of parents wishing to provide their children with an opportunity to participate in athletics.
Sometime later in 1972 the North Shore Track and Field Club was formed by Doug Barry and Dave and Lee Norris. The Club, which used a track at Rangitoto College, focused specifically on senior athletics only.
In 1978, Graeme and Gaby Avery invited Dave and Lee Norris to their home to discuss the merger of the two organisations, allowing for a pathway from children through to adults. Little did they know the impact this decision would have some 39 years later.
In 1982 the Club was acknowledged for its tremendous success when it was awarded the New Zealand Club of the Year National Award, across all sports.
Thanks to the dedication of countless Club volunteers and the vision of the Norris and Avery families, the athletics club has undergone significant changes throughout its history.
In 1984 the Club moved from Windsor Park to the $3 million Sovereign Athletics Stadium, which forms the current site of AUT Millennium today.
The Sovereign Stadium was almost fully funded by Bays Athletics, through significant fundraising efforts and generous contributions, and was equipped with the very best and latest equipment.
Not only did it provide the Club with a brand new facility, the North Shore community as a whole now had a world-class athletics stadium which brought international-calibre athletes and events to their doorsteps.
At the centre of Bays Athletics’ success is a recognition that for it to be successful it must develop coaches.
The Club established NorthSport Academy in 1996 with the vision of creating a developmental pathway for athletes and a professional career for coaches. Today it is a thriving academy with dedicated world-class coaches and athletes.
Many of New Zealand’s best athletes, in any sport, have begun life with Bays Athletics, including Olympic Gold Medallist, Hamish Carter, Terenzo Bozzone and All Blacks Doug Howlett and Rudi Wulf.
Nigel Avery was also a successful Bays Athletics athlete and went on to represent New Zealand at both the Summer Olympics as a weightlifter and Winter Olympics, where he competed in bobsleigh.
In recent years the Club has produced notable Olympians and Commonwealth Games athletes such as decathlete Sarah Cowley, walker Tony Sargisson, sprinter James Dolphin and Rio 2016 Bronze Medallist Eliza McCartney, to name a few.
Towards the late 1999s, Bays Athletics had outgrown its Athletics Stadium and required indoor facilities such as a gym and indoor track.
North Shore Swimming and North Harbour Water Polo were also requiring a deep-water pool to accommodate their ever-growing membership and consequently, a pool was added to the expansion plans.
North Harbour Bays Club President and AUT Millennium Chairman, Sir Graeme Avery led the development of the $30 million Millennium Institute of Sport and Health and the facility opened with a 60 metre indoor track, gym, indoor throws facility and 50 metre Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Since the opening of the Millennium Institute of Sport and Health in 2002, Bays Athletics has continued to dominate the sport in New Zealand.
Not only does the Club produce world-class athletes and coaches, it is also a place for the community of all ages to participate in athletics and physical activity.
Enormous thanks is owed to the Norris and Avery families for their strategic thinking, vision and dedication to the greater good of athletics and New Zealand sport as a whole.
The vision by Dave and Lee Norris and Sir Graeme and Gaby Avery to combine clubs has built the firm foundation which is an important part of AUT Millennium, a vast array of other organisations and sports clubs and many thousands of club members, school children, Swim Schoolers, Gym members and staff.