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Jack McLean gym in Thames ready for grand opening

09 February 2018

We're planning an official opening ceremony for the brand-new Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre in Thames on Friday 16 February and everybody is welcome to come and have a look at this joint community-Thames High School court facility.

Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre (gym) 23 January 2018

(Photo: Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre. The scaffolding is down and exterior signage will be added soon.)

After a dawn blessing, a karakia by Ngati Maru kaumatua Wati Ngamane begins promptly at 10am so please arrive by 9:45am and wear court shoes or be prepared to take street shoes off to enter the gymnasium, where proceedings will take place.

After the karakia, the Thames High School kapa haka group will perform and there will be some speeches from our Mayor Sandra Goudie, Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Principal David Sim, Mary Hamilton of the Thames Sport and Education Trust and John McLean - son of Jack for whom the gym is named.

Events will wind up with a morning tea at the school hall.

Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre is on 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 groups and Thames High School athletes have been competing for court time which hasn't allowed for any growth in local sports clubs.

The final cost of the project is just over $6M. Legal and commercial avenues are being pursued to recover part of the cost associated with additional roof work which delayed the opening.

In addition, $850,000 of the total cost has been met from external grants, $390,800 from community fundraising and sponsorship and $440,000 from Thames High School.

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

Who was Jack McLean?

Jack McLean in the 1950s when he played for Bradford Northern

Jack McLean was born in Thames on 3 October 1923 and went to Thames High School where he distinguished himself as an athlete and rugby player. He represented the school in a variety of sports.

He served in the military during World War II and during various postings around New Zealand played representative rugby for Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury.

After the war he was a teacher and in 1947 was selected for the All Black tour to Australia. On his return to Thames in 1948 he was again selected for the All Blacks and played the test series against Australia. In all he played five matches for the All Blacks, including two tests, and scored seven tries, playing on the wing.

He then had a successful professional rugby league career for Bradford Northern in England (see photo on right), and in 1955-56 was the leading try scorer. His record as top try scorer for the club (261 tries) still stands.

In 1957 he returned to teaching at Thames High School and coached the first XV until 1967. He passed away in 2005.

The name Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre was confirmed by our Council at its meeting of 12 December 2017 and has the support of Thames High School, Ngati Maru and the Thames Sport and Education Trust - a community group working to improve fitness and leisure facilities in Thames.