Mon, May 20, 2024 2:35 PM

Hockey’s new home unveiled


Peter Jones

A new era in Marlborough hockey began on Thursday when the first official games were played at the sport’s new venue, recently christened the Punawai Hockey Stadium.

The world-class water turf and pavilion, situated on Nelson Street and part of the Marlborough Girls’ College campus, was originally part of the Te Tātoru o Wairau combined colleges project.

Although the overall concept was canned earlier this year, the hockey stadium build was well underway and continued through to completion last month.

Hockey Marlborough announced last week that the new facilities had been officially blessed and the name unveiled. The name Punawai, meaning spring of water, was gifted to the facility by iwi at the dawn opening, attended by over 100 people, including Marlborough’s Mayor, Nadine Taylor.

Given the chance to create history on the pristine turf on Thursday afternoon were College grade sides, Kaikoura Black and MBC Waihopai. The youngsters lined up for the first official match at Punawai Stadium and relished the chance to try out the new facility.

For the record, Kaikoura came away with a 5-4 win in a see-sawing encounter, the first of many as Marlborough Hockey begin to fully utilise the new jewel in their crown.

On Tuesdays Year 5-6 games will be held at the new venue, on Wednesday Year 7-8 players will take the stage, on Thursday College, premier men and mixed division two matches are scheduled, while Friday will see mixed division one clashes. Monday Fun Sticks (year 1-2) and year 2-3 grade games will remain at College Park for another week or so.

Kaikoura player Adelaide Pettit shows her dribbling skills during the opening match at Punawai Stadium.

The new Punawai playing surface is state-of-the-art and eco-friendly. The TigerTurf ECOCEPT artificial turf base uses 96 percent re-used rubber and plastic. ECOCEPT recycles 76 tonnes of old car tyre rubber and plastic bags to build a hard-wearing, shock-absorbing, free-draining hockey turf that acts as its own base layer without need for an asphalt pad, making it easier to install.

Marlborough businesses who worked on the turf project include Martella Electrical, Cuddon Irrigation, Renner Fencing, and TC Nicholls Roading.

Robinson Construction was awarded the separate contract for the pavilion building, which will host teams before and after matches with changing sheds and post-match facilities.

At the opening ceremony, Mayor Taylor said, “This fantastic new facility heralds a new era for the sport in Marlborough with a turf that is fully compliant with International Hockey Federation standards and a purpose-built pavilion as a community base.

“College Park will continue as a turf facility and will be available for other codes including football and rugby to use. This also means hockey has the added and unexpected bonus of access to two artificial surfaces which will hopefully allow them to attract larger tournaments to the region. Hockey in Marlborough truly is the winner today,” she added.

Reps in action

Both the Marlborough under-18 boys’ and girls’ teams travelled to Nelson recently to contest the Stirling and Dodson Cup triangular events.

Despite both sides racking up victories against West Coast opposition, host side Nelson dominated the event, beating their Marlborough counterparts and winning both trophies.

Several Marlborough players trialled for the Tasman Districts National Championship Teams and under-18 side which will contest the national U18 championships in Christchurch July 7-13.

Six made the Tasman girls’ side, namely Maddie Large Jessica Bennett, Millie Large, Shani Tilbury, Isla Tilbury and Georgia Marfell, while Eva Davey and Bethany Lott were named as non-travelling reserves.

Eight players were chosen in the Tasman under-18 boys’ side, playing in Hawke’s Bay at the same time. They were Jock Flanagan, Sam Young, Logan Flight, Harry Wilkin, Lachlan MacNeill, Louis Girling, Liam O’Connell and Mason Herd. Aiden Bennett is non-travelling reserve.

Tournament results:

U18 Men: Marlborough 2 Nelson 4; Marlborough 4 West Coast 0; Nelson 3, West Coast 0.

U18 Women: Marlborough 0 Nelson 5; Marlborough 4 West Coast 1; Nelson 12 West Coast 0.

Marlborough’s new turf is set to host several tournaments this season, including the 100th staging of the Pope Shield women’s event and the Maadi Cup in late July.

In June, the men’s McCarthy Cup and women’s Ken Beech Cup events will be held in Blenheim.

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