Yacht clubs and boating clubs across the country are centres for socialising and making friends — you don’t have to go far in this island nation to find a group of Kiwis enthusiastic about boats and the sea!
However, as was demonstrated so vividly by the turnout for the recent Dargaville Regatta, our local boating clubs are also the custodians of history.
With a big 75th birthday on the horizon, the long-established Northern Wairoa Boating Club is a perfect example.
Members take to the water not just in new craft fresh from the boat builders, but also in a sizable fleet built right here in the waning days of the kauri milling industry. Boat building and the commercial use of the wide, muddy Northern Wairoa is in the DNA of Dargaville, a place where everyone from international traders, to navies to brave explorers once came to for the best designs in hulls and keels, masts and sails. Seeing a teeming mini-armada of craft out on the water brought back memories of those olden times, and the more recent post-war years when anglers and cruisers built home-made craft to ply the Kaipara Harbour.
Plans are afoot to gather stories, photos and reminiscences of those times into an expanded written history of the river, the club and its members — so any snippets of news, old albums or tall tales from the age of the box brownie camera and the pre-concrete Dargaville ‘harbour bridge’ would be welcomed by current club members. Of course, the recent regatta would not have been possible without the bountiful generosity of the good business folk of Dargaville, who banded together to offer ample prizes for the captains and crews who were victorious on the day.
A second renaissance has occurred recently, as patrons flock to the Northern Wairoa Boating Club for dinner — Friday steak nights and Sunday roast nights are becoming quite a drawcard!
It’s also worth noting that this inclusive bunch of weekend sailors, keen anglers, canny river captains and fishing story raconteurs is always keen to meet newcomers to town.
Those retiring from the big city to enjoy country life may very well enjoy the hospitality of fellow boating enthusiasts — whether they command a 2hp tinny or a twin-masted yacht.