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Iconic Hastings water park Splash Planet reopens after $2.4m makeover

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A handful of hardy souls braved heavy rain on Monday to be the first to experience the spruced-up Splash Planet amusement park in Hastings.

Hastings District Council voted in May to spend $2.4 million on the old and tired park, with some attractions in desperate need of repair.

Covid-related closures, staffing problems and damage from Cyclone Gabrielle had plagued it in the last few years, said council aquatics, sports and recreation manager Tom Page.

“The wet weather, the cyclone… and just a combination of the park getting to 25 years on from the original build of Splash Planet.

“You’ve just got a lot of work that needs to be done, renewals, and all this sort of stuff. “Hopefully it’s just the start of a journey of the next 10 to 20 years of improvement at the park.”

Splash Planet.

Splash Planet. Photo: Lauren Crimp / RNZ

The changes included a fresh lick of paint all over, landscaping, relocating some attractions, new electric motors for the bumper boats, a redesign of the pirate pool playground, and fixing up the iconic pumpkin and shoe – although they were now ornamental rather than play features.

But much of the cash was spent behind the scenes giving everything a good tune-up before it opened for the season on Monday – ensuring all the old favourite attractions were back on offer, Page said.

Tom Page at Splash Planet.

Tom Page at Splash Planet. Photo: Lauren Crimp / RNZ

“You won’t see a direct $2.4 million in front of you when you walk through the door, but everything working is probably a good sign of, you know, that’s money well spent.”

There were a few false starts on day one – some of the Jungle Jeeps struggled to get going. And the pouring rain kept the masses away.

“It definitely will mean that there’s probably a few less people through the gate which is disappointing, because obviously we want to start with a bang, and get people in and show them what’s different, and you know, obviously see the smiles on people’s faces,” Page said.

But having the park back open was a win for tourists and locals alike, he said.

“Up and down the country, if you talk about Hastings and what it’s known for, Splash Planet is one of those things. We’re really proud of it, and we obviously want to keep it going, and we want people to come here and experience it, and enjoy it with us.”

The Burling family.

The Burling family. Photo: Lauren Crimp / RNZ

Among the smiling faces on opening day were the Burling family, who had travelled down from Auckland with Splash Planet on the holiday to-do list.

“We’ve actually had this booked for quite a while,” Matthew Burling said. “We’ve got three kids between us, they just love swimming parks, and we heard about this online so we thought we’d come check it out.”

The hydroslides and the Fantasyland Express train were top of the list for the day, the kids said.

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State of Origin game III: New South Wales defeat Queensland to take series

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New South Wales has won the 2024 State of Origin series, with a 14-4 victory in the third game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

With just two points scored in the first half, Queensland led 2-0 at the break, before NSW powered back with two quick tries with less than 15 minutes to go.

It is only the third time NSW have won a decider at Suncorp in Origin’s 44-year history.

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Darry replaces Tuipulotu in All Blacks squad for Fiji test

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Sam Darry is set for his first test cap after being elevated into the All Blacks squad for their one-off test against Fiji in San Diego.

Darry’s rise comes after the All Blacks management decided to rest his Blues locking colleague Patrick Tuipuloto, who didn’t travel to the United States.

All Blacks assistant coach Leon MacDonald said the decision to rest Tuipulotu was made out of concern for ”fitness in terms of his body”.

Tuipulotu’s season looked to be over when he was said to have torn a knee ligament during the Blues’ Super Rugby quarter-final win over the Fijian Drua. He missed the semi-final but then shocked the rugby world with his return for the final, in which he led his side to victory over the Hurricanes. He then played the two physically demanding tests that the All Blacks won narrowly against England.

“We just feel we need to look after him a little bit. Sam Darry has come in to give him a bit of a break,” MacDonald told reporters on Tuesday.

Darry was one of the standout players for their Blues this season, and was considered unlucky not to make the All Blacks’ squad for the England tests, but he did train with them as injury cover.

Now he was likely to play in San Diego as he joins captain Scott Barrett and Tupou Vaa’i as the squad’s locks.

MacDonald has given him a strong rap, describing him as an “immensely talented” young man.

“As a coaching group, we are really impressed with Sam. He has just thrived in the environment and just impressed us with his sheer workrate and determination. He has deserved his spot here on this tour and is making every post a winner.”

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu on the charge against England at Eden Park on Saturday.

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu on the charge against England at Eden Park on Saturday. Photo: Brett Phibbs/Photosport

The All Blacks team to play Fiji on Saturday will be named on Thursday, with MacDonald promising ”a couple of new faces” will be chosen.

”There’s a noticeable hunger from those who weren’t picked for the England tests and a lot of competition for places in the team,” he said.

The players had a 20-hour flight to the States after their win in the second test against England, so have had limited time so far to prepare for Saturday’s test but MacDonald said they would not be taking their rivals lightly.

“We respect Fiji immensely. You only have to watch the World Cup how they beat Australia and how close they took England.”

The Fijians thrived on games against big opponents like the All Blacks.

“It’s going to be a dry ball and a fast track. Iff we drop our guard a bit they will hurt us and we don’t want that to happen at all. We want to have a really good performance and one we can be really proud of.”

MacDonald didn’t give any hints on whether Beauden Barrett, who turned the All Blacks’ game around when he took the field in the second test against England, would be a starter against Fiji or whether he would play 15 or 10, but hailed his performance, particularly for the effect he had on his team-mates.

“When we name the team, it does not really matter where you put him, you know you are going to get a big impact from him.”

Will Jordan, who missed the Super Rugby season after having shoulder surgery, was involved in full training with the squad and his return to top level play would be via game time with Tasman, MacDonald said.

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Possible security lapses in focus after Trump rally shooting

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Republican lawmakers said they would launch swift investigations into how a sniper apparently managed to evade Secret Service agents and climb onto the roof of a building near where Donald Trump was speaking at an election rally and fire multiple shots before being killed.

Mike Johnson, speaker of the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives, said panels in the chamber will call officials from the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for hearings soon.

The House oversight panel called Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle to testify on 22 July.

While information about the incident was still sparse, early media reports said the shooter was outside the security perimeter of the rally venue in Butler, Pennsylvania. One person interviewed by the BBC said he had seen the man with gun and tried unsuccessfully to alert police and the Secret Service.

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