Te Puke memorial pool

Te Puke memorial pool

In April 1920 fundraising began for Te Puke’s First World War memorial. However, little progress was made, partly because of disagreement over what form the memorial should take (suggestions included an obelisk, soldiers’ club, town clock, band rotunda, recreation ground, library, and lych gate). In 1930 the war memorial fund trustees gave all the money raised so far to the Te Puke Town Board.

The Town Board decided to put it towards a swimming pool and a rest room. The MP for Tauranga, C.E. Macmillan, formally opened the Te Puke war memorial swimming baths on 10 December 1930. A rest room was completed the following year and handed over to the Plunket Society. Neither  a roll of honour nor  a memorial plaque were installed at the pool or the Plunket rooms: the Te Puke Town Board evidently considered that the Te Puke School memorial gates provided an adequate focus for public commemorations.

On 29 October 1960 a new swimming pool was opened at Te Puke District High School. The project was jointly funded by the High School, Te Puke Borough Council, and the Te Puke Swimming Club. The baths were intended to served as a memorial to men from the district who fell in both world wars. However, like the earlier memorial swimming baths, neither a roll of honour nor a memorial plaque were installed. The facility is known today as the Te Puke Memorial Pool.

Sources: ‘Te Puke War Memorial’, Bay of Plenty Times, 28/4/1920, p. 4; ‘Memorial of the War: Fund at Te Puke’, NZ Herald, 23/10/1930, p. 12; ‘Te Puke Memorial’, Auckland Star, 19/11/1930, p. 8; ‘Te Puke Notes’, Bay of Plenty Times, 10/12/1930, p. 2; ‘Swimming: New Baths at Te Puke’, NZ Herald, 12/12/1930, p. 17; ‘Te Puke Memorial: New Baths Opened by Minister’, Bay of Plenty Times, 31/10/1960, p. 3; Selwyn G. Taylor, The Story of Te Puke, Te Puke, 1969, pp. 213-16; Te Puke: Nga Tangata Me Nga Wahi, People and Places, ed. Christine Clement, Lynne Robertson, Maree Lewis, Te Puke, 2007, pp. 188-9, 197, 211, 216, 219, 227, 290-1; Christine Clement, Te Puke and District World War One Memorial, Te Puke, 2013, pp. 5-7.

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Gary Benner

Posted: 17 Apr 2021

The 1960 version of the pool featured a unique self heating facility, the heat generated by the water on the sides flowing over black painted concrete panels about 1m wide up each side of the pool. This was developed by the then engineering teacher Tony Lewis. In a quirk of fate at the end of 1972, Tony fell into the pool (when it was empty) and broke his hip, and I had the privilege to teach his classes while he convalesced.