Sunju Park’s smiling face is often the first thing people see when they walk into Auckland Council’s Takapuna Pool and Leisure Centre.
The receptionist is originally from Korea. She uses her language skills to help the many Koreans who exercise at the council-owned centre which is a great fit for the facility.
“I love seeing all the different customers from 3-month-old babies to the over 80s and representing so many nationalities,” Sunju says.
According to the most recent census there are about 22,000 Koreans in Auckland, with 70 per cent of them living on the city’s North Shore.
Sunju, who also helps out at local Citizen’s Advice Bureaus providing translation services, says the feedback from Korean customers about the centre is fantastic.
“One customer came in when her knee wasn’t so good. The doctor had told her to have an operation. But instead she strengthened her knee through exercising in the pool. At the moment she tells me her knee is ok.
“Another customer who uses the gym told me after working out, she is much stronger than before.”
Customers also often ask Sunju who owns the centre.
“A lot of the customers ask me if this centre really belongs to Auckland Council for the community to use. It’s great we get the chance to promote that the facility belongs to council.”
Takapuna Pools and Leisure centre manager Kendall Gray says Korean customers use everything from the gym and pool, to Learn To Swim classes and aqua classes.
“Sunju is a great help. Because the Korean community can communicate with her, it makes things a lot easier.
“Coming to the centre is a great way for our new migrants to meet people. It’s also a great way for them to learn a bit of English.”
Koreans are the largest migrant group to use the Takapuna facility, but there is also a strong Chinese client-base, she says.
Private Korean Learn To Swim classes are also held at the centre.