Thames community raises half a million towards new recreation centre

The Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre was declared officially open and ready for play after a dawn blessing and an opening ceremony this morning.

“It’s such a wonderful facility and so many people in the community got their energy together over the many, many years and finally made it happen,” said our Mayor Sandra Goudie at the opening ceremony.

“It’s just magnificent. It’s going to be such an asset and a boon to the community. They’re taking bookings already and I’m sure it’ll be in great demand,” Mayor Sandra said.

Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre is on Thames High School grounds on Rolleston St and takes in the school’s existing gymnasium to make a two-court venue that will meet tournament requirements for many indoor sports including netball and basketball. It will also provide a suitable venue for volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, Kiaido Ryu and other sports and recreational activities, allowing them to thrive.

Community asset

Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre

Community groups and Thames High School athletes have been competing for court time which hasn’t allowed for any growth in local sports clubs.

“The three-way partnership between the Council, the school and the community has resulted in what we see here today,” said Thames High School Principal Dave Sim.

“It isn’t just a basic box that we can play games in. It’s a purpose-built recreation facility, it’s state of the art and it will endure,” he said.

The recreation centre is part of the Active Thames 2018 group of projects to bring up-to-date sport and recreational facilities to Thames. Other projects include the Thames Powerco Skate Park and proposed multi-club sportrooms at Rhodes Park. For more information go to Mary Hamilton is one of the key people behind Active Thames 2018. She said the idea of a new indoor court facility was first raised nearly 20 years ago.

“Like-minded people discussed improved recreation facilities to make Thames a more vibrant place to live, a place where young and old could be active, a place we could all be proud of,” she said.

“Probably the part I’m most proud of is the half-million dollars we raised from Thames families and businesses. If you look around, we’re not a particularly wealthy town – some gave a few hundred dollars as they could afford, and others like Powerco, Veolia, Richardsons gave tens of thousands. But every contribution got us one step closer to making this facility,” Mrs Hamilton said.

Click here to see the full list of sponsors and for information on booking the facility.

Jack McLean grew up in Thames and attended Thames High School. He was a gifted athlete and rugby player and played for the All Blacks before pursuing a successful rugby league career in England. He also taught at Thames High for many years.  His son John formally declared the Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre open.

“May the facility encourage youth, help the growth of local sports and recreation and help produce future champions,” John McLean said. “It’s a privilege and an honour to stand here today as a representative of our family to witness the opening of this magnificent gymnasium,” he said before unveiling his father’s All Blacks cap, which the family gifted to the high school a few years ago. It will sit in the foyer of the new facility.

Jack McLean's All Blacks cap

Jack McLean’s All Blacks cap

Mayor Sandra Goudie

Mayor Sandra Goudie

John McLean

John McLean, Jack’s son

Thames High School Principal Dave Sim

Thames High School Principal Dave Sim

Mary Hamilton, Thames Sport and Education Community Trust

Mary Hamilton, Thames Sport and Education Community Trust

Thames High kapa haka group

Thames High kapa haka group performing a waiata


Court 1 bleachers