George Williams BW

George Williams.

The YMCA movement began during the Industrial Revolution in the mid 19th century in England when young workers were leaving the farms and moving into the cities seeking work. Away from home and family, enduring miserable living conditions, these were youth at risk.



One young man, George Williams, saw the risk and formed a prayer group in 1844.
This lead to the three pronged approach:

From prayer meetings and bible study groups, the YMCA developed into public lectures and education classes to address the changing needs of its members. The YMCA reading rooms and refreshment areas also gave young men the opportunity to make friends and settle into urban life.
By 1894, the YMCA had become so significant that its 50th anniversary was marked with George Williams receiving a knighthood from Queen Victoria and the Freedom of the City of London.

The American YMCA Movement, founded in 1851, led the way in addressing physical fitness with gym openings and a wide programme of activities. It went on to invent both basketball (1891) and volleyball (1895).

The British YMCA Movement began a shift towards personal health and fitness, marked with the opening of a large gym at London Central Association in 1888.

The Gisborne YMCA

The Gisborne YMCA was founded in Gisborne in 1880 by James Rosie. Before leaving England James Rosie had worked for a firm of drapers called Hitchcock Williams (relations of George Williams) who had been involved in the establishment of the YMCA in London. The Association was formed in 1903 and incorporated in 1932.

The first Gisborne YMCA headquarters was held in a Methodist schoolroom in 1880.

In 1908 social and sport activities were introduced and six rooms rented in Gladstone Road, Gisborne above Rosie’s drapery store. The YMCA was equipped with a billiard table, table tennis table, chess and draught boards.

In late 1909 the YMCA was relocated to the Read’s Quay Hall because of overcrowding.

During 1926 funding of $5,000.00 was raised to erect the first YMCA building in Fitzherbert Street.

In 1958 an appeal was launched for $20,000.00 to build the existing stadium on the corner of Roebuck Road and Childers Road. In November 1969 the two storey extension to the YMCA stadium was completed and opened at a cost of $90,000.00 ($32,000.00 gifted by the Williams Trust).

In January 2006 the Gisborne YMCA built the Y-Kids Community Early Childhood Centre in Roebuck Road.

In July 2007 the Gisborne YMCA purchased from the Kaiti Hall Association the Kaiti Memorial Hall and surrounding parkland. The parkland is leased to the Gisborne District Council as a recreational reserve. Repairs and alterations to the Kaiti Hall took place in 2008 including the installation of showers for the Y-Fitness Centre, and the development of a small childcare centre and teen parenting classroom. The directors and staff of the Gisborne YMCA sincerely thank the trustees of the Kaiti Hall Association for their commitment to ensuring that the Hall continues to be accessible to everyone in the Kaiti region, and believing that the YMCA values and objectives aligned to their trust deed.

In March 2008 building was completed on the new Y-Tamariki Bilingual Community Early Childhood Centre beside the YMCA Memorial Hall at a cost of over $1,000,000.00.

A classroom gifted by the Diocese of Hamilton from the St Mary’s school was relocated to the Kaiti land in March 2008 for the development of a playgroup and afterschool homework study programme.

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