Reaping the rewards of a training culture at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre

September 26, 2019

The Rotorua Aquatic Centre team were hometown favourites this month, when they won the Skills Active training award at the national Community Leisure Management (CLM) Awards, held in Rotorua.

This award is sponsored by Skills Active Aotearoa, the industry training organisation for community recreation and aquatics. It recognises a CLM facility that shows dedication to professional development and upskilling, through formal on-job training.

Leah Burgess (pictured above, centre, with Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick on the left and Skills Active's Carolyn Verhagen on the right)  is the facility manager at the Rotorua Aquatics Centre. As well as managing the staff she is also an assessor and trainer, and supports them as they complete their Skills Active qualifications.

In 2019, 21 staff members completed the New Zealand Certificate in Sport, Exercise and Leisure Operations. Of these, 13 also went on to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Aquatics.

Burgess notes that many staff members also fulfilled their pool lifeguard registration requirements during the year, as well as other external training programmes.

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“It’s rewarding for the staff to be formally recognised for their knowledge and skills, and for the commitment and time they have put into completing these qualifications,” Burgess says.

She says training is a central part of the culture at the Rotorua Aquatics Centre and she and her team want it to stay that way.

“Aquatics and customer service staff participate in internal training monthly, and swim school staff quarterly. This ensures that they are recognised for their skills and knowledge, and that we are achieving consistent standards.”

Burgess says that for her, training is all about respect, and about supporting new staff as well as experienced team members.

“It’s rewarding to see staff open their eyes to the bigger picture of our community, and the significance of their role – rather than being ‘just a lifeguard’.”

She notes that two of the lifeguards recently attended the Skills Active assessor training workshop and are on their way to becoming registered assessors, like herself.

“Both play a huge role in training staff in lifeguarding, and health and safety. We value the support that Skills Active gives to our staff who take on these roles.”


Media contact for Skills Active

Esther McLaren

021 195 5127

About Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is the industry training organisation for recreation, exercise, sport and performing arts. We are a non-profit organisation, 50% owned by Māori shareholders, and funded by government to promote careers and workforce development in our industries, work with those industries to create world-class qualifications, and support workplaces to train staff.