News | 6 May 2022
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New community sport sand court for Pōneke

In 2015, the only sand court facility in Wellington closed down, leaving nowhere for schools or beach sport clubs to train.

Three people playing handball on a sand court.
Image by New Zealand Handball Federation Media.

For the last few years, players at the sports clubs have been playing on the coarse sand of busy Oriental Bay, the debris-full sand of Petone Beach, or the hard-packed sand of Lyall Bay. 

Wendy Turton, Wellington City Council Sports and Clubs Partnership Advisor, says a number of beach players were having to travel throughout New Zealand to engage in their sport.

“These sports clubs have been itching to have a safe and affordable sand arena to train in and host tournaments, run local leagues for men and women, as well as coach and develop younger players.”

Jordan, a player and representative for both the national and Wellington handball federations, says she’s looking forward to having a place to train. 

“The court we need is quite big and we haven’t been able to set up anywhere without playing in water, on a slope, or on rocks – so naturally, training became quite exhausting and unappealing. There’s only ever been individual options for training on sand around Wellington. Like sand sprints or jump training, not team training.” 

In 2018, the need for a new space was evident and Wellington City Council partnered with Handball New Zealand, Netball Wellington and Volleyball New Zealand to put together a proposal for a sand court in Pōneke. 

When it came to choosing a location, they looked to other established sports organisations to help them find the ideal spot – settling on a shared space in Hataitai with Netball Wellington, which welcomed the idea.

“The existing netball and tennis clubs have embraced the opportunity to have other sports join the area of Hataitai Park,” says Wendy. 

Sand court with a net in the middle and a fence around the outside.
The brand new community sand court for Pōneke.

In May 2022, the first community sand court for the capital was officially opened by Wellington City Council. 

Karsten Webb, the ex-president of the Capital City Wolves Volleyball Club, is excited for the opportunities that will come from the new court.

“Many variations of sports can be played on sand – ultimate, cricket, handball, volley and soccer are a few. Sand sports help with general fitness as well.  The location is also great and fits in nicely with the ‘sports hub’ in Hataitai.”

Players aren’t only excited for the space, they are anticipating an improvement in their training, says Henry Li, Beach Programme Officer for Capital Wolves Volleyball Club. 

“With the state-of-the-art equipment provided by the Council, we no longer need to bring our own equipment. This includes nets, poles, lines, rake and shovel, which only a select few people own.

“It will save at least 30 to 40 minutes of setting up and packing down time. We can now just show up and play, it’s a game changer.” 

Karsten says the sand court will also entice people into the city for beach sport tournaments – something that has never been able to happen in Wellington.

“Competitive events will showcase Wellington and could become a staple stop on the tour, and bring some economic benefits when people are in town for that.”

By having a space for these growing sports, it will give local clubs the platform to grow and help bring community beach sports back into Pōneke.

The sand courts are available for all community members and codes, and can be booked on the Wellington City Council website