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Loyal support puts surf club on solid ground

Posted at 5:06pm Wednesday 18 Nov, 2020

No health and safety concerns to worry about when patrols first started on Ōrewa Beach. The infamous tower that blew away in a storm. The first HQ for the Ōrewa Surf Club was a few tents on the reserve. “Guests” at the opening of the present clubrooms in 1960. “Kitchen staff” at the opening of the present clubrooms.


Club records show that the first patrols were done by six members of the Milford Club in 1950. Their headquarters was a tent in the camping ground, which they occupied for free for two years. A surf reel from Milford was their one piece of equipment.

When the tower was destroyed in a storm, a shed was built about where the club now stands. It had a sand floor and accommodated six bunks. Over the years, additions were tacked on providing for a sink, portable stove and table and chairs, and the luxury of hot water.

But the need for fit-for-purpose clubrooms became more pressing so, with Waitemata County Council approval, the club built a skating rink on the domain as a means of raising money. But when the rink was finished, the council discovered it was illegal for a private organisation to run a business on Crown land. Therefore, an agreement was reached which involved the club handing over the rink to the council, with an undertaking that if there was a shortfall in the club's fundraising, the county would pick up the tab.

The new clubhouse opened to great fanfare on Labour Weekend in 1960. Labour and donated materials made the build possible, but the county still had to chip in £4500.

The driving force behind this construction project was an ex-Takapuna Surf Club member, John Chapman, who was a builder by trade. He took over as secretary/treasurer in 1954 and he and Zoff Grant are credited with achieving what seemed like an almost impossible task. Both John and Zoff were made Life Members in recognition of the tremendous contribution they made to the club.
Many local families became associated with the club during the 1950s including the Kelleways, Pearsons, Nevilles, Dicksons and Hoppers.

As club membership grew, and with the introduction of fibreglass rescue skis and boards plus inflatable rescue boats, the gear storage area became totally inadequate. So, in 1978, again under the driving force of now ‘old' John Chapman, who formed a team with a local milk vendor Alan Franich, the clubhouse was extended and modified.

The gear shed was doubled in size and the upstairs was developed to provide a lounge and bar area, women's bunkroom and toilet facilities. This cost just over $27,000.

By the 1990s, the clubhouse had a replacement value of $450,000 and equipment was valued at $55,000.

References: 1990 Reunion Booklet, Rodney Times

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