By John Subritzky
Tucked away at the end of a no exit street, down a secluded driveway on Rosebank Peninsula, is a hidden treasure house that produces gold. To get there, you have to navigate through industrial streets where local recreation often involves doing burnouts to the sounds of boom boxes.
But down that secluded driveway is recreation and sports of an entirely different kind. That almost mythical place is the West End Rowing Club (WERC). They came here in 2000, in search of one of the few stretches of water in Auckland that is suitable for rowing.
The Whau river was an important route for waka on the portage between the Waitematā and Manukau harbours. Early European settlers used it as a heavy transport route to move bricks and pottery products from New Lynn and Avondale to the city. Then, in the 1930s, crowds gathered for rowing and powerboat events. Today, WERC is the only regular organised water user of the Whau River.
Saunders Reserve is the fourth base in the Club’s 137-year history. They moved here from Westhaven as the growing marina restricted the training area available. As one of a handful of rowing clubs in Auckland, they attract members from across the city. Training is usually done in the early morning - around dawn in winter. Like any sport at elite level, training in the gym and on the water is not for the faint hearted.
Mahé Drysdale represented NZ in his 21-year rowing career. Mahé says, “The medals are a bonus, but rowing has provided me so much more over the years. It was West End Rowing Club that got me off the couch and started me in this wonderful sport. The club have supported me my whole career and given me lifelong friends”.
WERC’s Stephen Jones has been selected to compete in the Men’s 2 at the Tokyo Olympics this year, while former member Charlotte Buck has been selected for the USA Olympic Women’s 8+.
It all starts with 17-24-year-olds being introduced to rowing through the Club’s ‘Learn to Row’ program.
WERC has established a novice and intermediate club program this year and it is being run by coach Hasan Pathan. At just 19, Hasan is already a familiar face at WERC having served the last two years as an assistant coach at Mt Albert Grammar School, coaching their U15s and U16s.
Hasan says, “I'm a strong, practicing Muslim, born and raised in NZ with ethnic Indian heritage. I'm very fond of where I come from, being able to converse in four tongues and really embrace my identity/religious roots. Getting into the sport of rowing was a complete accident. Following the stereotypes, I accidentally went to the wrong sport academy signup area at Mt Albert Grammar School… was meant to go to cricket academy but walked into the rowing one instead. From that point on rowing has been such a positive influence in my life.
“Being a person of colour coming into a rowing environment which is traditionally white dominant, you'd expect colour to play a part in how successful you are. Flat out wrong. Hard work determines how successful you are, and I could truly thrive in that environment. Leading on to this I rowed for a year and a half, then coxed for another year and a half.”
In the last few years WERC has faced challenges from some locals who are opposed to the renewal of their lease at Saunders Reserve. Like hundreds of other sports clubs and organisations, WERC has a lease on public land for their clubrooms. Councils have traditionally granted these leases in recognition of the work the clubs do to promote active lifestyles.
Whau Local Board (WLB) had a public hearing on 30 June to hear submissions. Donna Cooper for Auckland Council summarised the situation and answered questions from board members. Catherine Farmer asked several questions until eventually Susan Zhu objected. Chair Kay Thomas moved the proceedings on, saying that the issue of the lease would be covered in submissions. The rift between other board members and Farmer was more evident than usual.
Three objectors appeared in person. Steve Bradley said he was an experienced boatie and asked about public access and signage. He did bring some humour to the room when he misspoke about bollards, calling them ‘bollocks’. His suggestion was 5-year renewals for the Club and the progressive conversion of the clubrooms into a public facility.
Jenny Pullar submitted that the reserve space is dominated by the Club, and it does not adequately serve local people. Zhu asked if by that logic, when she goes to a sports club outside of Avondale, whether she should be excluded for not being local? When Pullar was asked by Fasitua Amosa what her dream vision of the reserve space is, Pullar said she would go back to 2000 with no club building.
Robin Brehmer gave her conservation credentials and questions WERC’s commitment to the environment. Like others, Brehmer was concerned about access to the Kurt Brehmer walkway that goes past the club building. She had an interesting variation on NIMBYism, in that she alleged that the club was wealthy and served wealthy people from the eastern suburbs. I got the strong impression that there was resentment against perceived ‘rich pricks’. Brehmer said that WERC needs to accept that the lease is over, pick up their building and go away. When given a patsy question from Farmer about environment work by the club, Brehmer asserted that WERC had done nothing to improve the environment but had rather degraded it. This was later refuted by the WERC.
Other submissions from Freya Brehmer and ‘Anonymous’ were read out as they did not appear in person.
But, as a proverb says, the person who tells one side of a story seems right, until someone else comes and asks questions.
Harry Waalkens and Club captain, David Vallance appeared for WERC. During the last two decades, thousands of adults and school kids have utilised Saunders Reserve for rowing. They countered the accusations that Club activity was illegal. Waalkens said that the Club was not elitist as half the members were school students from diverse backgrounds, and the three schools that are affiliated are all state schools.
WERC cannot simply pick up its building and go somewhere else. There are only four suitable water locations in Auckland: Tamaki, Henderson Creek, Upper Waitematā, and Whau. All those locations already host rowing clubs.
The Club has lifted its game with environmental work in recent years. Contrary to the accusation that it does nothing, it participates in the annual Whau River Cleanup organised by the Whau River Catchment Trust (WRCT). General manager of the WRCT, Gilbert Brakey, says that involvement of the Club in the annual clean-up has been incredibly helpful. WERC provided their seven chase boats as safety boats for the clean-up, manned by volunteers who have H&S certification. All the rubbish is brought back to the Club, who pay for disposal in a commercial skip bin. The Club hosts a BBQ for all the volunteers to round off the day.
WERC members have also turned out for tree planting days. Around 1,000 trees are planted each time. Brakey points to the involvement of local clubs like WERC, Te Atatu Boating Club, New Lynn Sea Scouts and Rosebank Speedway in helping achieve the ecological goals of the Trust.
The outcome of the WLB hearing into the Club’s lease was yet to be determined at the time of going to print. It is great to see clubs nurturing young people into successful sports careers and looking to be better citizens of their local communities.
By John Subritzky
The sudden passing of Countdown Lynfield’s Checkout Manager, Maria Kelleher, on July 1st came as a huge shock to Countdown staff and customers, not to mention friends and family. I recall speaking to her just the previous week; she put her hand on my shoulder in a friendly gesture and told me that the next week would mark 20 years for her at Countdown. A tribute desk at the store had dozens of photos, and people queued up to sign remembrance books.
Maria left a legacy of aroha. She cared deeply about everyone that she connected with, and it showed. Her goal was always to advance others.
In 2018, Hillary Barry spent time with Maria at Countdown for the Seven Sharp show. While Hillary collected the shopping trolleys and spoke to some customers in the carpark, Maria was at the entrance engaging with everyone.
“What she also did today, and every one of the days that she has worked here for the last 18 years, is to nurture this community,” said Hillary. And to Maria: “You’re the one who is just the greatest help to all these people.” Maria replied, “I just care. They’re a great community!”
The sixth of ten children, Maria was born as her mother rode a horse named Darkie towards Rawene Hospital. Her brother acted as midwife, then they continued on the ride to hospital. Maria’s dad came from Newport, Wales. Her passions were netball and music; she played then coached netball, and was a lead singer with “The Trix” for 18 years. She was also a backing singer on the Billy T Show.
Originally working at 3Guys supermarket, Lynfield, Maria was concerned about whether she would get a job at the new Countdown that was being built in its place. She needn’t have worried. Robin Pinner, Countdown Support, spoke at the tangi (funeral) of his first impression of Maria at her employment interview. She was a standout with her personality and customer service skills, quickly advancing from Lotto to Checkout Manager, where she was like a customer concierge. Robin says how deeply she cared for her team and customers. She had an enormous smile, and no one was immune to her hugs and kisses, even with her bright red lipstick! The funeral chapel was packed with dozens of Countdown workers
Maria worked under eight managers. She would ask Robin “Where did you get this one from?” or “This one is all mixed up – they think they’re running the store!” She decided that she needed to retrain them for Lynfield. She always wanted to see people grow and she was like her team’s union delegate, wanting the best for them.
Bernie and Maria met when he was working on her car. She later intercepted him as he walked home, and invited him for dinner. That was the beginning of a special love that they shared for 30 years, spending every available minute together, and sharing their enjoyment of music. When Maria got home from work, she would symbolically hang up her troubles on the tree. She would then contact staff to make sure that they had got home safely. Bernie said she had a work ethic that was second to none. He has lost his best mate, friend, and companion.
Her sturdy boots were on her coffin at the tangi. Bernie came in with his hand on her coffin, walking with the pall bearers as they were welcomed with a waiata. The emotional funeral saw the crowd singing along with the Bee Gees song Words during a slideshow of her photos.
It's only words,
and words are all I have,
To take your heart away.
Maria was carried out to a rousing haka and her coffin loaded into the back of her beloved Toyota Landcruiser. After people farewelled her, Bernie climbed into the back of the truck and held her coffin as they drove slowly off to the crematorium. As they left, a cloud of yellow smiley face emoji balloons was released into the sky. Maria’s favourite emoji symbolised her spirit.
Maria and Bernie had been impacted by a poem they saw years ago:
“God saw you and you were weary,
He did what He thought was best.
He gently held you in His arms, and whispered,
Come in and rest.”
Maria’s last words to Bernie were “I am just so tired.”
Her legacy is lives impacted by her love.
Trophy returns to New Lynn
The New Lynn Sea Scouts have taken a short break from their winter sailing programme to take part in a range of land-based activities, proving they are just as capable on land as on sea.
It was back on 20th March 1929 that Mr W Cecil Leys presented an imposing sterling silver trophy to the then Auckland Central District Boy Scouts’ Association. The ‘Leys Memorial Trophy’ was then given to the Leys Institute Troop of Boy Scouts, who immediately put the cup up for challenge.
The original conditions laid down for the competition involved senior scouts and included camp craft, signalling, ambulance, and lashing work, and was to be competed for by a patrol of six scouts.
Over the years and into modern times the competition has reflected the above intent with the emphasis on scout craft and camp craft as teams of Venturer Scouts (aged 14-18 years) continued to uphold the tradition set so many years ago. With the high standards expected of the participants, this has become the premier Venturer award in the Auckland Region.
The event, based around a tramping competition, is organised by the previous year’s winners, and takes place over two days. This year the venue was a private farm near Puhoi.
The members of the New Lynn Scout Group have always looked forward to this challenge as a test of their skills and as an opportunity to push themselves. The group dominated the event throughout the 1990s but last held the trophy in 2004. The following years saw many tightly contested events, with New Lynn being just pipped at the line.
However, this year there was no doubt of the result with the team from New Lynn amassing double the number of points of their closest rivals.
The team worked their way through a number of bases which included a gear check, some outdoor first aid, fire lighting, and putting up an old canvas tent blindfolded. An important aspect of the competition was undoubtedly navigation, which involved a slight detour after miscalculating which base they were at. This resulted in two hours of bush-bashing in the direction they believed the next base to be, making their way up and down banks, over fallen trees and through gorse. They eventually emerged, scratched and muddied, to a homemade tiramisu that was commended by both judges and fellow competitors, as well as winning the dessert competition.
As this goes to press, teams from New Lynn Sea Scouts and Venturers will be competing in the Boomerang Pioneering and Pitstop Total Exhaustion challenges. The Boomerang tests their construction and knotting skills while the Pitstop is a top team style event that sets a range of wacky challenges, added to which the teams need to make the most of their bribery skills so they can extract information and equipment from the event organisers to make the challenges easier to complete all while carrying around a muffler that must never touch the ground.
The New Lynn Sea Scout Group caters for boys and girls aged 5 - 19 years. So if you want a slice of the action on the water, or to go camping and explore the awesome adventure playground that we are blest with out West, then give Andrew a ring on 027 6939 756 or check out www.newlynn.seascouts.org.nz for more details.
By Merril Bourne
Volunteers are needed to continue the great work Community Patrol NZ does in our community; therefore, we ask you to give serious thought to joining the wonderful volunteers, who work with police for the reduction and prevention of crime in the Green Bay and Blockhouse Bay areas.
The patrol was set up in 2007 after a number of smash and grab burglaries in the Blockhouse Bay mainstreet shopping area, and at that time it was the first patrol in the Auckland City Police District. Now the Auckland Police District including Counties Manukau and Waitematā, proudly has a total of 34 patrols.
The police value the work patrols do across the country, and statistics prove that any Community Patrol presence in the community helps to reduce crime.
Patrollers are vetted by police, trained within the patrol, and supplied with a uniform and ID card. Each person is only required to do one patrol per month, working with a fellow patroller for about three hours, around streets, shops, parks, schools, and beaches, in order to deter or report undesirable behaviour such as tagging, dumping and theft, to name a few.
More patrollers would mean more patrols which would benefit us all.
Interested? Contact email@example.com, or go to www.cpnz.org.nz for more information.
By John Subritzky
Auckland has seen increasing crime over recent months that has led once more to the debate about arming the Police.
Whau, and Avondale especially, have not been immune to this trend. We were shocked first by one shooting, and then a second. Firearm violence always brings fear due to the risk of innocent bystanders getting caught in the crossfire.
Car arsons happen intermittently, usually relating to other criminal activity. The arson of three cars at one property was next level and made national news.
Some of the incidents seem to be related to the wider Auckland disputes over territory between gangs.
In New Lynn there were two ram raids. A bystander reported that the ram raid of Warehouse Stationery only seemed to net a charity box selling chocolates. A dairy was ram raided and the target always seems to be tobacco. These raids are costly in property damage to shops and the stolen vehicles, as well as lost product.
In Avondale main street, a man being chased by a car driven on the footpath, was captured on dashcam.
There is widespread low-level crime though, that seems to impact even more people. That is property damage and thefts. Cars are being broken into, sometimes even when there is nothing of value in the car.The cost of replacing windows, even if there is insurance, can be a huge challenge for many victims who can least afford it.
There is also mail theft and courier parcel theft happening. People have been seen going through mailboxes in broad daylight. In Blockhouse Bay, a woman was seen sending two young children onto a property to take a courier parcel from the front door.
A few people can do a lot of damage, so if they are no longer active, the number of victims subsides dramatically. There are some actions that we can all take to reduce the likelihood of being impacted. Removing all valuables and locking cars is a great step. Putting a lock on your mailbox helps. Directing courier deliveries to an address where people can receive it like a work address or some retailers that accept parcels. Camera surveillance systems continue to be popular to help people feel empowered and reveal some strange nocturnal activity.
Community Patrols like the CPNZ can be the eyes and ears for us all, but currently are short of volunteers. Joining them is one way that you could help your community.
By John Subritzky
Many Lynfield residents were appalled in early 2019 when AT started work to remove the indented bus stop near the shopping centre. People questioned the wisdom of narrowing the road, which is an issue with the centre median island on The Avenue.
The AT consultation document stated: "The bus layovers on The Avenue (opposite Oriana Avenue) will be upgraded to improve accessibility for buses on Route 25L. The buses do not currently line up well with the existing kerb lines and the kerb buildout will ensure the buses’ entry and exit are simpler and line up to ensure pedestrian access buses is made easier.”
When the project was completed, there followed months of buses ploughing up the grass on the centre median as they manoeuvred around each other.
Now, two years later, almost every trace of that project, including extensive concrete areas, have been dug up and sent to waste. The only thing left is the debt.
AT are apparently surprised by an increased volume of buses, which is surprising in itself considering they are in charge of bus scheduling. Unlike residents, AT is also surprised by an increased number of near misses between buses and cars since they narrowed the roadway. They also by law now must allow their drivers a break and a toilet stop at the terminus of bus routes. The nearby public toilets were upgraded earlier and now include a staff-only cubicle.
The contract for this latest change is $252,259. The first alteration is likely to have cost a similar amount, so there is around half a million dollars been spent for a modest increase in the indented bus stop.
Presumably, the buses now do line up with the indented kerb line to ensure easy pedestrian access.
By Justine Newnham
Did you know that at there is a marine reserve between Rosebank Peninsula and Waterview? Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve spans over 500 hectares of intertidal mudflats, tidal channels, mangrove swamps, saltmarsh, and shell banks.
In a marine reserve the marine life is totally protected from fishing, shellfish gathering and any other type of disturbance to the marine life. The species and habitats within the reserve are left to grow naturally and any degraded areas are allowed to recover.
Mangroves and saltmarsh provide a rich feeding ground for many birds and marine life. The white-faced heron, pukeko, spotless crane, and the endangered banded rail rely on the marine reserve for their food source, as well as several non-waders, including the kingfisher and fernbird. Red-billed gulls, black-billed gulls, and terns also visit the marine reserve.
International migrants such as godwits, knots, and sandpipers breed in North Asian wetlands during the Northern spring and summer, then fly south to avoid being frozen in winter.
The South Island pied oyster catcher and the wrybill are national migrants, breeding on the shingle beds of South Island braided rivers in spring, then flying to northern harbours and estuaries for the late summer, autumn, and early winter.
The fernbird has only a few surviving populations in the Auckland area due to habitat destruction of the shoreline shrubs and coastal forest. These birds nest close to the ground, making their eggs vulnerable to predation by rats, cats and dogs.
Protection such as pest control is important for these birds within the Marine Reserve. The Whau River Catchment Trust currently have over 100 traps set up around the esplanade reserves of the Rosebank Peninsula.
If you would like to become involved in pest control or assist us in any way, please contact Justine at the Whau River Catchment Trust: Justine@whauriver.org.nz or mobile: 021 627 864 or the office at (09) 627 3372.
1 Fernbird/mātātā, Oranihina Park, Te Atatu Peninsula. Photo: Jeremy Painting.
2 Banded rail/moho-pererū, Oranihina Park, Te Atatu Peninsula. Photo: Jeremy Painting.
3 Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve. Photo: Justine Newnham.
On the face of it, a Lynfield retirement village seems an odd choice of venue to announce Andrea Anacan as the first New Zealander to ever compete in karate at the Olympic Games. Not so strange, however, given Ryman Healthcare’s partnership with the New Zealand and Australian Olympic teams, and that the village is named after another famous Kiwi Olympian, Sir Murray Halberg.
At the function, Olympic medal winner Barry Magee, himself a resident at the village, presented Anacan with a fern to formally welcome her to the Olympic team.
Barry won a bronze medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960 for the marathon event, but he was happy to prove that he can learn some new tricks, with Andrea taking him and the residents and media gathered through some basic kata drills.
Now 87, Barry still offers running advice to aspiring athletes around the world and, having also competed at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, he offered his advice to Andrea for her time there.
“The Olympics are a rare honour and blessing. There may be laughter, there may be tears, but celebrate the moment and the challenge, the inspiration, the excitement, and the adventure.
“I will never forget the feeling of walking out with my teammates at my first games. And remember, once an Olympian, always an Olympian – congratulations!”
Andrea said she was honoured to represent New Zealand and karate.
“It means the world to me to be part of this New Zealand team,” said Andrea.
“I didn’t ever dream of going to the Olympics when I started this sport, it’s been a bit of a surprise to be honest.
“There’s been a lot of hard work, I can’t quantify the hours that me and my sensei have put in, we never could have imagined this, but I couldn’t be more excited.”
Andrea took up karate as a four-year-old, when her mum offered her the choice of either taking ballet or karate lessons.
She thanked her sensei and her family for their support to get her to Tokyo.
Ryman Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said the aim of the partnership was to highlight the strong support of the whole Ryman community for exceptional athletic achievement at every age and ability.
“We decided to bring the games experience to our villages with residents competing against each other in a selection of activities in our own ‘Olympics@Ryman,” MacLeod said.
“The aim is to combine the values of friendship, excellence and respect with pioneering new technology to push the boundaries of what is possible, also encouraging positive ageing and well-being.”
“Some amazing technologies are being put into use, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality and multi-participant digital connection across time zones,” he said.
“We have got more than 700 entries from across 41 locations who will be competing in cycling, walking, swimming, bowls and Quiznastics.”
Anacan’s selection was announced by NZ Olympic Committee member and Olympian Alexis Pritchard, who was the first woman to represent New Zealand in boxing, and competed at the London Olympics.
“Andrea has put in a huge amount of work to get to this point, and we look forward to seeing her wear the fern and step into the Olympic dojo in Japan,” she said.
The kata competition begins on 5 August in Nippon Budokan, an indoor venue located in Tokyo’s Kitanomaru Park which hosted judo events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The bleeding-edge of digital technology was no problem for the three Lynfield College students, who have taken out the top places in the national NZ Secondary Cloud Skills Challenge for 2021!
Kaelem Chandra (1st overall), Rielly Moore (2nd) and Harbour Wang (3rd) were among hundreds of secondary students who participated in the first NZ Secondary Schools Cloud Skills Challenge, a challenge which consists of technology learning modules aimed at IT professionals and university students trying to enter the rapidly growing cloud computing space. The Lynfield College students gained the highest scores in the national competition, which tested their knowledge and creative thinking skills in across multiple disciplines such as Artificial Intelligence, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 Administration and Automation.
Participants had to complete advanced learning modules provided by the Microsoft Learn network, complete exercise labs and then independently validate their knowledge by sitting a Microsoft Certified Fundamental exam which is an internationally recognised industry certification used to prove an individual has the adequate skills for employment.
The competition was hosted online by New Zealand Industry Qualifications (NZIQ) and Microsoft NZ. According to Jonathan Jansen of NZIQ, the decision to include a secondary school division was a last-minute decision.
“Microsoft have hosted Cloud Skills Challenges internationally throughout the year and seen some great engagement at a university level. When we proposed running a Secondary School Division, we really weren’t sure how high school students would hold up against the advanced material,” he says.
“We were incredibly impressed with what New Zealand students were able to achieve. In a rapidly emerging industry, the demand for cloud skills is already immense. The quality of all participating students from across New Zealand was very encouraging and shows that our students are prepared to challenge, innovate and create for the future.”
Principal Cath Knell said she was delighted that Lynfield College students had achieved so highly and that these results would surely inspire even more students to participate in the future.
By Rachel Ernst
Cultural pride was on full display on 2 July, when Chaucer School held its first-ever Ancient Cultural Games Day. The project was entirely student-led, and the children had worked for a month in their own cultural groups on perfecting the games. They had to present their games to the junior classes and teach them how to play them. There was so much fun and learning in the sea of country flags and colourful costumes.
By Tony Rea
Kites flying high signaled the start of Matariki celebrations in New Windsor on 3rd July. Whaea (auntie) Jackie Wilson welcomed the crowd on the school field with a powerful karanga (welcome call) supported by waiata (song) with her daughter Jayla. Whaea Jackie emphasized the importance of Matariki as a time to acknowledge those who have passed on, celebrate coming together, and planning for the future.
A large crowd enjoyed a range of activities from the bouncy castle and slide to the tugs of war, parachute games and volleyball. Learning how to fly the colourful kites in the gentle breeze was a favourite – flying of kites to welcome Matariki is an ancient Polynesian tradition.
Local people sold a range of products at the market stalls ranging from organic hair products to cacti. The Parent Teacher Collective bake sale was very popular, as were the free barbeque sausages.
Many people commented that they had made new connections at the celebration and enjoyed the sense of coming together as a community. They also appreciated the effort of the volunteers from the New Windsor Community Hub who organized the event. The day ended with many families enjoying a free swim in the school pool.
The New Windsor Hub appreciates the support of the Whau Local Board for this event. The Hub welcomes input from residents and especially welcomes those who can volunteer their time and talents to support further development of community in our suburb. The Hub is based on the grounds of New Windsor Primary School.
Contact Shalema firstname.lastname@example.org Mob: 0204812788