Keep community pools afloat

Aquatic supervisor Crete Bryers-Beauchamp, Tina Harris-Ririnui and lifeguard Sarah O’Connor at Greerton Aquatic & Leisure Centre, which operated on reduced hours last week.

Tauranga City’s aquatic centres and community pools are feeling the drain on their staff this year due to Covid-19, winter illnesses and a lack of international workers.

Bay Venues has told The Weekend Sun it’s a real balancing act to keep Tauranga’s five pools staffed and operational for the community.

Although Bay Venues – a Council-Controlled Organisation – is feeling the staff squeeze across the business from reception to hospitality roles – poolside has never been so bare.

Hit hard

“Without a doubt it’s hit our aquatic fraternity the worst,” says venues and programmes manager Tina Harris-Ririnui. With a large part of their aquatics workforce being made up by fit and healthy people – Tina says that staff are being taken out by a second round of Covid-19 and winter flu.

“Normally you’d expect to see people out for seven days but on average some are out for 10 days, some are out for two weeks and it’s genuine,” says Tina.

Greerton’s pool recently had to reduce their opening hours due to staff absences and pressures. “On an average day we can get up to 4000 people at Baywave and at the Mount Hot pools, whereas Greerton doesn’t have the numbers…we’ve just got to deploy staff to where the demand is,” says Tina.

The current closure of Otumoetai pools until late August due to a major water leak “has impacted our regular visitors but is a blessing in disguise for staffing,” says Tina. With the number of staff effected by Covid and winter illnesses being rife among the Ōtūmoetai team, Tina says: “We wouldn’t have been able to keep Otumoetai open anyway”.

The current closure of Ōtūmoetai pools until late August due to a water leak has been a “blessing in disguise,” says Tina. Due to the number of staff affected by Covid and winter illnesses being rife among the team, Tina says: “We wouldn’t have been able to keep Ōtūmoetai open anyway”.

Opening borders

And staffing shortages aren’t only due to illness either. “As soon as the borders opened we lost staff that we’re from overseas wanting to get back home again,” says Tina.

“We are not getting the influx of international travellers to our region, such as massage therapists and team leader lifeguards.” In turn, local staff are making a travel exit too. “We’ve got young people that want to go to Camp America and the likes, so now they’ve gone and we’ve got people doing their OE,” says Tina.

Having enough staff to operate aquatic centres is essential to community safety, says Tina. “We’ve got to work really carefully…hence why we might have to reduce hours, or it might be that we’re closed to the public and we have it open for the swimming clubs – so we’re continually finding ways that we can keep our venues open safely.”

Bay Venues is calling for staff across Baywave, Mount Hot Pools, Greerton Aquatic & Leisure Centre, Memorial Pool and Ōtūmoetai Pool.

“Working for Bay Venues is a great way to give back to the community – so if anyone is looking for a change of vocation, we’d love to hear from them,” says Tina.

Those interested joining the Bay Venues crew, visit: https://bayvenuesjobs.co.nz

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