Sunday, 27 September 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Matarangi Boat & Fishing Club celebrates 25-year anniversary

Plans are underway to officially mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Matarangi Boat & Fishing Club.

The inaugural meeting of the club was held on Thursday, 18 May 1995 chaired by current patron and life member, Blue Lewis. The gathering took place at the Matarangi Fire Station - which continues to host club meetings today – after Blue placed an ad in the Mercury Bay Sun inviting all interested parties to attend.

“We had 15 people turn up and we were delighted, that was considered a great turn out, one bloke even travelled down from Auckland especially for it,” Blue recalls. The first committee was elected consisting of president Rob Constable and secretary Trevor Lewis, along with Blue, Barry Briggs, John Waldron, Brett Gordon and Mike McCormick.

“A lot of them have gone now, but we’re going to try and track down as many of the original members as we can so they can be part of the celebration dinner,” says Blue. The event is being planned to coincide with the club’s annual prize-giving in September, with a date yet to be confirmed. “We wanted to have something in May on the actual anniversary, but that wasn’t possible due to the Covid restrictions,” Blue says.

In the early years, the club played an important role in bringing the Matarangi community together, with regular social gatherings down at the harbour. “Of course, there weren’t nearly as many properties in Matarangi then, so when we held an event pretty much the entire community got involved,” Blue says.

The prize-giving dinners were famous, with the members busy on the water for weeks accumulating stocks of fish and seafood for the spread. “We did it all ourselves back then, we never had to buy anything and we’ve always had terrific support from the local businesses in and around Matarangi,” Blue says.

While he says the club can take credit for a lot of good work, including installing the original posts in the channel, the barbecue tables, retaining walls and more recently a jumping pontoon for the kids to enjoy over summer, current club president, Pete Murphy, says Blue, supported by his late wife, June, was the real driving force behind the club’s success for most of the past 25 years.

“All the competitions and events, it was Blue that organised them,” Pete says. “If anything needed doing, once Blue heard about it, it was sorted. I was doing quite a bit of night fishing and I mentioned how dark it was when you were coming in. Blue went off and organised a solar light for the end of the wharf and it’s still going.”

For many years, everyone attending the prize-giving also enjoyed half a crayfish courtesy of Blue. “That was of course before the quotas,” Blue is quick to point out.

Peter describes how Blue literally had a hand in the success of many of the club’s big tournaments, including a popular land-based competition. “The week beforehand, Blue would be out scattering pig pellets up and down the beach so all the big snapper would come in, and it usually worked,” he laughs.

While the role of the club has changed of the years, Blue says he is proud of what has been achieved and is very happy seeing how the fledgling organisation has grown and developed to continue serving a larger and more dynamic community. Seeing 20 juniors among the 200-strong membership is especially satisfying. “It’s great seeing the young ones come through and getting into fishing, they’re the future of the club,” he says.

Pete points out there are now a small number of families that have had three generations of members. While there are now multiple competitions throughout the year, some of the longest running events remain the most popular. These include the club’s annual New Year’s competition on 2 January, which has been a calendar staple for over 20 years, and the ladies’ Doris Day Out, which has been going for a decade.

Blue says these days he is happy to let Peter and the committee take charge as he embraces his patron’s duties. “My main job now is to hand out the trophies and we have such a fantastic collection that have been donated over the years,” he says. “I’ll be looking forward to doing that again in this special year and hopefully catching up with a few old friends as well.”

Ahead of the anniversary dinner, the club is looking for any additional photos, memorabilia and tales from the past. Check out their Facebook page for more into.

Pictured: President of Matarangi Boat & Fishing Club, Pete Murphy (left), and patron and life member, Blue Lewis, are looking forward to officially celebrating the club’s 25th anniversary.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.