HISTORY OF THE DEVONPORT NAVAL BASE POOL
Oddly, the pool owes its existence to the 1951 waterfront dispute.
The dispute was the biggest industrial confrontation in New Zealand’s history. It lasted 151 days (February to July) and, at its peak, involved 22,000 waterside workers (wharfies) and other unionists. At the time New Zealand’s population was just under two million people.
The West Coast Coal Miners went out in sympathy. The effect on the economy was such that the Government directed the Armed Forces to undertake “any kind of work”. That work included operating the wharves, manning coastal shipping and working in West Coast coal mines.
The navy dispatched frigates to Westport where the sailors were put to work in the mines recovering coal to the main port. The sailors drove steam locomotives and become very popular with the local inhabitants (except, of course, with the miners).
After the strike was over the Armed Forces were paid for the work undertaken on the wharves and in the mines. The Navy invested in what is now known as “the Central Fund”. The Central Fund owns recreational motels in Mount Maunganui and Taupo and installed the swimming pool which the Devonport Swim Club uses on the Navy base. The pool was begun around 1957 and opened for use in 1958. The pool is 33.3m (25 yards) in length and in addition to the Navy and Swim Club is used by local schools for swimming carnivals.