Who We Are

History of the YMCA Tauranga

Since 1980 YMCA has been enriching the lives of children and young people in the Bay of Plenty region by providing a range of youth activities and programmes.  

Our roots are grounded in the passion of local community groups and members who supported our establishment. We remain thankful to the Tauranga Rotary Club who provided funding and guidance in our early years.  

As our reputation grew, so did our team. We started with a steering committee that later evolved into a management team employing a community worker to ensure our policies and programmes are aligned to local needs. 

Today YMCA’s Tauranga operations form part of the network of YMCA services that span the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and greater Auckland region. We’re part of a global family, but proud to be 100% New Zealand owned and operated. We’re also a not-for-profit organisation working hard to empower young people to reach their full potential.

With support services centrally run from the Auckland office, and governance provided by a board, we can focus on what we do best  - delivering great service and programmes to Tauranga kids, families and communities. 

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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!