A History Of The Te Anau Boating Club (Inc.) | 1943 – 1990

On the 24th April 1943, a meeting was called in Te Anau of those interested in forming a Boating Club. The meeting was attended by Dr Jennings, Messrs J Green Jnr., W Excell, W Campbell, H Day, H Day Jnr., A Adams, T Plato, W Beer and CL Burrows. Dr Jennings was elected to the chair. After some discussion and on the motion of J Green seconded by W Excell, it was decided that a Club to be known as the Te Anau Boating Club be formed to foster the interests of boat 0\:\11ers. 

Dr Jennings was elected President, Secretary-Treasurer C L Burrows, Executive Committee W Excell, H Day Jnr. and J Green. The meeting resolved to install a rail slipway, which was duly carried out. 

By 1955 there was much-increased activity in boating on the lake with the result that the Walker brothers and other boat owners decided to lay a concrete slipway. On the 3rd of January 1956, the Club accepted from all who took part in the project the ownership of the slipway. In 1957 the concrete apron was extended to the road line and widened. It was then also decided to build a jetty. 

The annual meeting of the Te Anau Boating Club held on 29 December 1957 was in the Public Hall at Te Anau with the following members present, A Walker President, F Herrick Secretary and JC Wilson, Mark Wilson, W H Wilson, Thomson & Son, Robert Blue, Richard Blue, Dr Orbell, Dr Jennings, J Gieseg, J Munro, P McCasey, C Harvey and H Walker. From the members present, Mr A Walker was elected President, with Dr Jennings and Mr T Beck as Vice Presidents. Secretary was Harry Walker, and the Committee members were J Gieseg, C Harvey, Mark Wilson and Robt. Blue. The main discussion was the possibility of forming a Boat Harbour at B1uegum Point. An outline of a proposed scheme for deepening the Lagoon and cutting a channel from the lake was given by Mr Mark Wilson. Dr Orbell mentioned the great possibilities of a Boat Harbour and spoke of ones he had seen. Due to members being very enthusiastic about the idea, it was decided to draw up plans and obtain prices. 

At a special meeting held in the YMCA in Invercargill on the 11th June 1958, the President gave a description of the plan of the proposed Boat Harbour surveyed and drawn up by i1r Albie Naylor and sited at Bluegum Point. The meeting approved the plan, and it was unanimously resolved to engage a suitable contractor to do the excavation. It was decided to raise money by the issue of Debenture Notes to members and intending members. 

The Committee held a meeting at Te Anau on the 18th June 1958, and the President showed Mr Brian Talboys, the local MP, over the site, and he was very impressed with the scheme. The Committee then met Mr Hogg from the Balfour Lime Company, who submitted the successful tender for the excavating work. It was then decided to hold a special general meeting of the Te Anau Boating Club with the idea of winding up and forming a new Club to be known as the Te Anau Boating Club Incorporated. This was carried out. 

Work went ahead under the guidance of President Mr Alex Walker, Secretary Mr Harry Walker and Dr Orbell on the Finance Committee, surrounded by a very energetic group of key men who gave a great amount of their time. With the excavation of the Harbour area completed, 

volunteers were called to commence laying the concrete. Approximately 70 people assisted at the first working bee, and for some time, things went really well and a lot of concrete was put down. However, by the 31st August 1959, the President reported a keen sense of disappointment in the manner ill which the first flush of enthusiasm had receded like a tide and left the Committee to carry on the work with very little of the support they believed would be forthcoming. The previous month 73 notices had been sent out asking for volunteers to help with urgent work at a working bee, but only seven turned up. A big stock of cement and equipment had been organised, and this was very disheartening. 

Ernie Halliday joined the Committee in November 1959 (remaining on the Committee until 1989). He and a group of dedicated men in the Club carried on with what proved to be a tremendous undertaking to get the Harbour going. To finish the concreting was a very big job and money had to be found to pay for the work done. In addition, the Harbour had to be deepened and it was decided to do this by the use of a gravel pump which was a very troublesome piece of equipment necessitating a very large number of man-hours trying to keep it working. It was decided to hold a Regatta in 1959, and the Club was able to bring in some badly needed extra funds. 

In October 1967, a new steel cradle donated by Mr A Walmsley was placed on the rail slipway under the direction of Mr J A McEwan. 

At the annual meeting on the 13th October 1969, Messrs A Walker and Mr A L Naylor spoke of the foresight and planning of the early Committees and mentioned that it was largely as a result of their good work that the Club was in such a sound position. 

In July 1970, railings of tanalised posts and split logs were erected at the Harbour. Mr Naylor gave a report of a submission made on behalf of the Club to the Commission of Enquiry into the raising of the Jake levels. Mr Naylor only became aware of the sitting of the Commission some twenty minutes before he had the opportunity to speak. 

In December 1971 Mr H C Leary was thanked for his long period as a caretaker and the work he did for the Club, and a presentation was made to him for his excellent work. :r-..1r J A McEwan took the position of caretaker for the ensuing year. 

On the 31st July 1972, the Club applied for an Occupational Licence. Due to some local opposition, it was to be a long time before a licence was issued, and for more than two years the Committee was unsure as to the tenure for the future, and this made it difficult to plan ahead. Mr Featherston was appointed Harbour Warden in February I 973. 

In April 1974, after negotiations spanning three parliamentary terms, the Club was finally granted a 33-year lease on part of the Domain. Some heavy sheet piling from Manapouri was obtained from the Ministry of Works and Development. In June 1974, this sheet piling was installed in the cut. Sheet piling was also driven into the Harbour on the western side of the cut. It was also decided to deepen the Harbour, and Mr Mervyn Wilson was engaged to carry out the work About this time Mr A Petrie supplied a beautification plan for the area, and the Club expressed its thanks to him. Later Miss Lois Bain of the Lands and Survey Department gave a report on trees that should be removed. As a result, a number of trees were removed and in August 1974 a number of new ones were planted including 50 Poplars, 6 Willows, 16 Kowhais and 5 Ecualypts. 

In 1975 a jetty licence was obtained for a 14-year term. 

Other development work went on including driving mooring pipes in the Harbour; The \Vharf which was planned to be placed beside the original slipway into the lake had lain idle for some time. It was now decided to install it in the Boat Harbour, and this work was completed late in 1960. In October 1960 the Club made an application to the Marine Department to establish ski lanes at three points on the lake, and they are still in approximately the same areas. At about this time too Mr Albie Naylor had redrawn a plan to provide better use of the mooring area. On the 27th December 1960, another Regatta was held, and with good support from the public, some further funds were collected to help in the development work. 

In 1962 a rail slipway purchased on the Invercargill Estuary was shifted and installed at Te Anau in place of the original rail slip. This too proved to be a big undertaking, getting levels established and handling heavy sleepers and rails at a time when lake levels were suitable. In June 1961 the gate with the locking system which is still used was designed by Mr T Beck and installed on the original concrete slipway on the lake shore. During 1961 sheet piling was driven right around the base of the concrete walls of the Harbour and more concrete was poured. Mr Halliday and others went to Te Anau with two of the biggest gas bottles and worked through the night cutting in half, dozens of black tarred corrugated sheets of metal which were driven round the base of the walls right around the Harbour. 

In October 1961, Mr Mason from Bluff offered to design a footbridge over the Harbour entrance from measurements supplied by Mr Naylor. It was later decided not to proceed with this because of possible problems in the future with clearances. Another Regatta was held on the 26th December 1962, and this raised additional funds. 

In April 1963 mooring pipes were re-arranged to the plan drawn some time earlier and driven right around the Harbour by a pipe driver supplied by Mr George Begg. Late in December 1963 another Regatta was held. In 1963 Alan Imlay was appointed Secretary to the Club. 

In 1964 a social evening was held in Invercargill and was attended by about 80 members. Later that year, development work continued with more gravel being pumped from time to time. In 1965 Mr Rod Waldron was appointed Secretary. A high octane petrol pump was installed at the Harbour in March 1966 and in August of the same year lights were installed right around the Harbour. At about this time, extensive repairs had to be carried out on broken concrete around the Harbour. 

In October 1975 it was resolved that a launching ramp be built into the Boat Harbour. However, in March 1976, it was decided to put a cut through into the Lagoon and build a launching ramp there. Plans were prepared by Mr AL Naylor and approved in April 1976. Mr Mervyn Wilson carried out the work and some concrete slabs were used for the walls of the cut that had been purchased as surplus sometime before. The gate from the old slipway at the lake edge was moved across to the new entrance to the parking area, which had been fenced off sometime before. At this point in time, some 25 members were on the waiting list for berths. 

In 1976 some of the rules of the Club were rewritten to bring them up to date with the changing circumstances of the Club. At this time, Life Membership was awarded to !\1r Alex Walker and Dr Orbel1 for their work in the development of the Harbour. On the 7th December 1976, there was a final discharge of debentures to those who had loaned money to the Club to make the project possible, and present-day members may well ponder over the proposition that had it not been for these public-spirited people, there may well not have been a Boat Harbour at Te Anau. .fv1r Featherston resigned after 5 years as Harbour Warden and his place was taken by Mr W H Wilson. 

In 1977 a permit was issued allowing the Club to construct the bridge across the cut into the Lagoon and this work was carried out by Mr Mervyn Wilson. 

In 1978 it was decided to remove the raiJ slipway as it was no longer being used. 

In 1979 it was decided that all members’ boats were to have a registered number so that it would be easier to identify boats, and keep a check on those who were not members but who were using the facilities without payment. 

In February 1980, it was decided to remove all the mooring pipes which had been used at a time of lower lake levels and replace them with longer wooden poles. This had been necessitated by the control gates at the lake outlet being used in such a way that lake levels were not being kept at their historical levels, particularly at holiday times with the result that the poles were now found to be of insufficient height. 

In 1981 Mr Alex Walker retired from the Committee after a long and dedicated service, and members spoke in appreciation of the part he had played. In I981 protracted negotiations were held with the NZ Electricity Department about the jetty being under water a lot of the time and they granted $1,000 to alter and raise part of the decking. However, it was a different story when trying to get some compensation for damage to the concrete due to high lake levels and after very long and protracted negotiations, it was finally agreed that the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust would arbitrate. Mr Halliday was asked by the Committee to formulate submissions and attend the hearing which was later held in Te Anau in October 1981. 

In February 1982, the report of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust was received. In August, Mr L A Stalker and Mr E Halliday met Mr Dowling from the NZED who agreed to provide the labour and half the cost of the materials necessary for repairing the Harbour walls and the work went ahead. At this time, Mr A L Naylor was asked to prepare plans for the further development of the Lagoon area. Having had the development approved Hoffman Contracting got the go-ahead to excavate the new area and by September 1982 a contractor was able to drive 50 new mooring poles in the Lagoon area. At this time, too plans were being prepared for a second launching ramp into the area, complete with a walkway. 

In September 1982, Mr E HaHiday was nominated as a life member. Mention was made of the part he had played in the Club’s affairs and having been involved on a number of occasions with various organisations with whom the Club had to negotiate. His nomination was confirmed at the annual meeting. 

In November 1983, Mr A Walker mentioned that it was the 25th year of the Boat Harbour’s existence and suggested that an article should be written up for publication. Some six years later Mr Halliday did the research for the written history of the Club, resulting in this record now being prepared. 

By August 1984, the second launching ramp had almost been completed, but there was a long delay before the finishing touches were put to it in September 1986. In October 1984, a further 21 poles were driven in the new area. 

At this point in time, it would seem that most of the major work had been carried out, but there were still trees to remove and others to plant. This work has been done. The former notice board has been removed and replaced with a much more attractive one that holds as well fire extinguishers and other gear. Mr Albie Naylor was elected to life membership acknowledging his years of valuable services to the Club. 

Unfortunately, in 1988 the highest ever flood occurred and a very large amount of gravel was dumped over the top end of the Harbour, and the roadway washed out. As well a number of the recent planting of trees were lost and they had to be replaced. 

The Club, which was founded by enthusiasts from Invercargill, wishes to gratefully acknowledge the help that has been received from Te Anau residents over the years. It has had very valuable help from its Harbour Wardens. The present Warden, Ross Saunders, monitors the use of the Boat Harbour and keeps the area tidy. The Club has recently had its boundaries changed to facilitate improved parking for cars and trailers and the local Council is thanked for making this available. The Club does not allow long term trailer parking in order to keep the area tidy. 

The Club, which has not sought a high profile, has gone on quietly building up its facilities as finance has become available. One of its strongest points is that it has had very good Secretaries. Since the days of Honorary Secretary Mr Harry Walker who did an excellent job, professional people have been used to look after the Club’s financial affairs and administration. Our past Secretary, Mr Rod Waldron, held this office for 24 years and was a tower of strength to the Club. He retired in 1989, and his services to the Club over this long time were greatly valued by all. 

Committee members have visited Boat Harbours in many places in the world and the cost of membership of the Club is only a fraction of the cost of similar Clubs. A lot of time is spent in collecting dues from people who use the Club’s facilities but who, for some reason, try to evade payment. Many thousands of dollars of members’ money has been spent and many thousands of hours of meetings) travelling and hard work by the Committee and members have made this Harbour possible. 

For and on behalf of the Committee of 

The Te Anau Boating Club (Inc.) 

20 September 1990 

Te Anau Boating Club (Inc.) 

A list of those members who have held the position of President of the Te Anau Boating Club (Inc.). 

  1. Dr Jennings
  2. HA Day
  3. CL Burrows
  4. A Walker
  5. E Halliday
  6. H Macpherson
  7. AL Naylor
  8. M J Wilson
  9. LA Stalker
  10. RS Garrick
  11. MW Christie
  12. AG Hoffman
  13. GR Fraser
  14. A B Ivfacpherson
  15. BS Hall