Who We Are

History of the YMCA Tauranga

The YMCA Tauranga was established in 1980 in response to a community request to provide activities for children and young people. With initial fundraising and guidance by the Tauranga Rotary Club, the original steering committee evolved into a management group who employed a community worker and set the policy that led to the development of the programmes and activities of the organisation.

Since 1987, the YMCA Tauranga has been officially recognised as an autonomous association with its own constitution. It is governed by a voluntary board of directors, led by Bas Kramer (President).  Board members are carefully selected based on their skills and ability to contribute to the organisation. Given the nature of our business, our staffing levels vary throughout the year. We employ a large number (60+) of full time, part-time and casual staff and our current average FTE number for this year is 24.

The YMCA in New Zealand

Since 1855, the YMCA has been working to achieve its vision of building strong kids, strong families and strong communities – in effect, growing great New Zealanders.

We have been doing that successfully for more than 150 years, developing the complete person using the three pillars of Mind, Body and Spirit. Generations of New Zealanders have grown up with and benefitted from their association with the YMCA. The YMCA even deployed with our forces in the two world wars providing rest and recreation facilities and canteen services in all the theatres in which our troops operated. It would be hard to find a family in New Zealand who has not had a connection with the YMCA at some stage in their life and we are proud to have been part of the history of this country almost from the very beginning.

Today, the YMCA, through its 13 member associations, operates throughout New Zealand from around 40 sites and increasingly, YMCAs are providing off-site delivery of programmes and services to cater for their local community needs. YMCAs have robust and diverse partnerships including government ministries, government departments and agencies, local authorities, non government organisations, schools, district health boards, charitable trusts and businesses. 

The YMCA is a registered charity.

The YMCA Globally

The YMCA movement was started in 1844 in London, England where tens of thousands of young men had flocked to take advantage of the available work in the middle of the industrial revolution. These young men worked extremely long hours, away from home and family and most often in poor conditions.

The YMCA was initially conceived as a bible study group for these young men – an alternative to the grog shops and other unsavoury places that they were otherwise drawn to. It quickly became apparent that this fledging organisation was more than just bible study. It was about providing a safe and supportive environment for young men (and later, young women) who were without the normal support structures of family and community they were used to.

By 1855 the YMCA movement had spread internationally and the first New Zealand YMCA opened in Auckland. It was also in that year that the New Zealand Parliament was established and the YMCA World Alliance was formed in Paris. The “Paris Basis” became the agreement on which National YMCAs were affiliated to the World Alliance.

Almost from the beginning, the YMCA has focused on healthy activities for young people and is credited with inventing basketball, volleyball and body building. It is claimed that an early YMCA staff member named the sport of softball, which was in danger of being called “sissy ball.” Finally of course the idea of camps and camping is said to have originated with the YMCA, as well as the concept of “Fathers Day”.

The YMCA is no longer an organisation for young men nor is it a religious organisation nor restricted to those of the Christian faith. The YMCA today is an organisation based on sound values and is deeply rooted in communities serving the needs of everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, beliefs or social background. It is one of the most recognisable and valuable brands in the world!

Welcome to the YMCA Tauranga website!