After four years of dreaming, planning and preparation and 13 months of construction, the Westlake Boys High School Gymnasium and Physical Education and Sports Administration Centre was officially opened on Thursday 25th February. The visionary community project represents a huge milestone in Westlake’s sporting history. Together with the 2012 Jubilee Fitness Training Centre and the 2015 WBHS Artificial Sports Turf project, the Westlake Boys Gymnasium project represents the completion of a jigsaw of sporting facilities projects. Together these three “legacy” facilities ensure that, for many years to come, Westlake Boys High School is able to offer multi-purpose sporting facilities for our students, staff and the Westlake Community to share and benefit from.
The gymnasium, designed by Jasmax Architects and built by Amstar Construction, boasts two full-sized playing courts; four classrooms (the Alf Butt Physical Education Learning Centre); three changing rooms; the Brett Hart Physical Education Faculty Office; the Westlake Boys PTA Conference Room, and a spacious viewing gallery. Two cleverly-designed, large viewing windows allow a peek into the school’s former “top gym” conveniently connected to the new facility. The talents of many New Zealand representative Westlaker Basketball and Volleyball players were first discovered in this 1980’s facility.
Two former Westlake Boys Heads of Physical Education, who collectively served over half a century of service at Westlake and established the rich and meaningful values of belief, determination, humility and excellence that underpin Westlake Sport to this day, are appropriately recognised in the facility with the naming of the Alf Butt Physical Education Learning Centre and the Brett Hart Physical Education Faculty Office.
The day’s celebrations commenced at dawn with Westlake Boys Maori elders Kaumātua John Marsden and Victor Henare leading a gathering of Westlake whanau in Te Ao Maori, a spiritual Maori blessing. According to Maori customs in Te Ao Maori (the Maori world), it is believed that any spirits who may be present will be put to rest as the sun comes up. As the sun rose over the Rangitoto horizon in multiple glorious hues, the group proceeded throughout the new building touching walls and surfaces to symbolise access to the building for generations of the Westlake Community who will follow in their footsteps.
The opening event, officiated by Westlake old boy and NZ Olympic Committee President Mike Stanley, was held at the opposite end of the day and, as the sun went down, guests gathered to view the impressive facility. Guests including project funding partners NZ Community Trust and Fuji Xerox, Westlake family and old boy donors, project team members and WBHS PE and Sports staff, enjoyed proceedings as Headmaster David Ferguson, Board Chair James Sclater and Mike Stanley shared insights into the project process and the many opportunities a facility such as the Westlake Boys High School Gymnasium represents for past, present and future Westlake students, staff, families and local community members. A video montage of the construction process was compiled by Westlaker Joe Canham was a popular highlight of the evening. (Click on this link to view the video).
Current Master in Charge of Basketball, Nic Sullivan commentated a popular exhibition match between the current Westlake Boys Premier Basketball side and a selection of recent Westlake old boys. The game attracted a large crowd of guests who watched from the Viewing Gallery located on the first level of the Gymnasium. The result went to the wire with the WBHS Prem pipping the Westlakers side by two points! The Westlakers team was coached by “Mr Westlake Basketball” Mark Jackson. Mr Jackson served as former WBHS Master in Charge of Basketball for over a decade and was instrumental in the development of Westlake Boys as the leading basketball school in the country. Jackson coached Westlaker Tall Blacks the likes of Kirk Penney, Thomas Abercrombie, Jarrod Kenny, Corey Webster, Rob Loe and Jack Salt. Read the full match report here.
Despite being NZ’s most crowned secondary school champion team, for many years, Westlake basketballers have not had the opportunity to play “home games” on their home turf due to the substandard condition of the floor in the school’s gym. The new Westlake Boys High School Gymnasium changes that situation and from 2016 onwards, Westlake basketballers and volleyballers can now play at home in front of their home crowd. We look forward to sharing these exciting sporting opportunities with the school’s community.
A gallery of photos from the two events – the dawn blessing and the official opening of the Westlake Boys High School Gymnasium, are available here. Our sincere thanks to Westlaker Ben Jung, Westlake staff member Tracey McKay and student photographer Yu Chen for these superb photos of this special milestone occasion in WBHS’ history.