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  • John McLaren
    John McLaren Australia
    It may simply be a symptom of a misspent youth, but I can’t remember anywhere near the names that Mike can – for all those I’ve forgotten, please forgive me. For me, surfing began in about 1964 when my parents bought me my first board, a 9’4” Quane. It weighed about 150 kgs and had a 1’’wide mahogany stringer. For a little guy, it was a beast; too wide and heavy to manoeuvre so I cut it down to a very ugly 6’2” (obviously I shouldn’t have) My parents regularly rented a Bach at Moureeses Bay and so I stuck there for holidays, I surfed those gentle banks and also went around to Whananaki Bar when it was working. While at Kamo High School, Robert Uffindall and I started a small Surfboard brand called McDell in the old Wilkinson’s Bus Depot on Kamo Rd. We had visions of challenging the likes of Nev Hines but instead we regularly butchered blanks and experimented with Fibre Glass like a couple of mad professors. Very occasionally, we produced a rideable Board. This was the time of the early Twin-Fin, a more exacting design that we probably never got quite right. Once mobile, we were able to surf all over the North, up to Ahipara and Shippies, Taupo Bay and occasionally over to Bethels for a scary experience. We slept in cars, under cars, on cars, on the beach. It was such a glorious sense of freedom. The surf on the east coast was mostly gentle; a beautiful, mesmerising few hours, every single weekend. The friendships were as important as the surfing although I did become obsessed by actually surfing, taking every opportunity to be in the water. I remember one day being out at Sandy Bay on a really small day and watching a big blonde guy managing to wring more speed out of small surf than anyone I’d ever seen. Someone pointed out that this was Ian Cairns. I moved to Auckland and occasionally attended North Shore Teachers College. But mostly I surfed or drank beer at The Poenamo Pub (The Po.) – a packet of Winfield Blues and 3 pints for $2. We would play an active role in ‘Drink the Po dry’ sessions. Once based in Auckland, we spent most of our time at Piha, often surfing huge monsters at North Piha, sometimes in fading light but never feeling afraid. Piha Bar was also a great spot but always crowded. Stephen Tredrea’s sister Val was a good friend at that time and a very powerful surfer at Piha. On the East Coast it was often Daniels Reef where I remember a brand new Blue Spirit getting ceremoniously smashed on the rocks. And a semi-secret spot called Maori Island where I nearly drowned and was saved by Bill Brown, a fellow pirate and brother of the very excellent Roger Brown. We went to New Plymouth quite a lot, often just for a weekend and Gisborne of course. In 1973 I moved to Australia and unfortunately away from what was such a huge part of my life. We all have regrets, but at 67, mine is that I didn’t keep surfing. I think it made me calmer, more joyful, definitely fitter but mostly more appreciative of this amazing life.

    It may simply be a symptom of a misspent youth, but I can’t remember anywhere near the names that Mike can – for all those I’ve forgotten, please forgive me.

    For me, surfing began in about 1964 when my parents bought me my first board, a 9’4” Quane. It weighed about 150 kgs and had a 1’’wide mahogany stringer. For a little guy, it was a beast; too wide and heavy to manoeuvre so I cut it down to a very ugly 6’2” (obviously I shouldn’t have)
    My parents regularly rented a Bach at Moureeses Bay and so I stuck there for holidays, I surfed those gentle banks and also went around to Whananaki Bar when it was working.
    While at Kamo High School, Robert Uffindall and I started a small Surfboard brand called McDell in the old Wilkinson’s Bus Depot on Kamo Rd. We had visions of challenging the likes of Nev Hines but instead we regularly butchered blanks and experimented with Fibre Glass like a couple of mad professors. Very occasionally, we produced a rideable Board. This was the time of the early Twin-Fin, a more exacting design that we probably never got quite right.
    Once mobile, we were able to surf all over the North, up to Ahipara and Shippies, Taupo Bay and occasionally over to Bethels for a scary experience.
    We slept in cars, under cars, on cars, on the beach. It was such a glorious sense of freedom. The surf on the east coast was mostly gentle; a beautiful, mesmerising few hours, every single weekend. The friendships were as important as the surfing although I did become obsessed by actually surfing, taking every opportunity to be in the water.
    I remember one day being out at Sandy Bay on a really small day and watching a big blonde guy managing to wring more speed out of small surf than anyone I’d ever seen. Someone pointed out that this was Ian Cairns.
    I moved to Auckland and occasionally attended North Shore Teachers College. But mostly I surfed or drank beer at The Poenamo Pub (The Po.) – a packet of Winfield Blues and 3 pints for $2. We would play an active role in ‘Drink the Po dry’ sessions.
    Once based in Auckland, we spent most of our time at Piha, often surfing huge monsters at North Piha, sometimes in fading light but never feeling afraid. Piha Bar was also a great spot but always crowded. Stephen Tredrea’s sister Val was a good friend at that time and a very powerful surfer at Piha.
    On the East Coast it was often Daniels Reef where I remember a brand new Blue Spirit getting ceremoniously smashed on the rocks. And a semi-secret spot called Maori Island where I nearly drowned and was saved by Bill Brown, a fellow pirate and brother of the very excellent Roger Brown.
    We went to New Plymouth quite a lot, often just for a weekend and Gisborne of course.
    In 1973 I moved to Australia and unfortunately away from what was such a huge part of my life. We all have regrets, but at 67, mine is that I didn’t keep surfing. I think it made me calmer, more joyful, definitely fitter but mostly more appreciative of this amazing life.

  • Sue Lane
    Sue Lane Australia
    WOW! Just finished watching “The Average Surfer” story, amazing - thank you. So many memories of people and places of our younger years. My family moved from Auckland - North Shore to Ruakaka with the opening of the Oil Refinery. Very lonely there till I made friends. Sandra Weston (née Massey) and I started going to Ruakaka Beach, we would walk from my parents home in Peter Snell Road over the bridge to the camping ground to the beach. First boys we met were Brett Knight, your brother Phil, and a guy called Rick who was visiting from Noosa, Mitty Slako and lots of other boys, made some great memories and friends. Where did the time go? We were so lucky, we had paradise to live in. Fun, surf and sand and wonderful people. Thank you for bringing back memories of many, many happy years. My sons also were members of Ruakaka Surf Club. Paul was Nipper of the Year there 1987, just before we left for Australia. Thanks Mike, everyone will so enjoy this. Sue 🌈🌞 🌊

    WOW!
    Just finished watching “The Average Surfer” story, amazing - thank you.
    So many memories of people and places of our younger years.
    My family moved from Auckland - North Shore to Ruakaka with the opening of the Oil Refinery.

    Very lonely there till I made friends. Sandra Weston (née Massey) and I started going to Ruakaka Beach, we would walk from my parents home in Peter Snell Road over the bridge to the camping ground to the beach. First boys we met were Brett Knight, your brother Phil, and a guy called Rick who was visiting from Noosa, Mitty Slako and lots of other boys, made some great memories and friends.

    Where did the time go? We were so lucky, we had paradise to live in. Fun, surf and sand and wonderful people.
    Thank you for bringing back memories of many, many happy years.
    My sons also were members of Ruakaka Surf Club. Paul was Nipper of the Year there 1987, just before we left for Australia.

    Thanks Mike, everyone will so enjoy this.
    Sue
    🌈🌞 🌊

  • Mike Cooney
    Mike Cooney Manly Sydney
    Lived early years on top of Brynderwyns (dad built the Tearooms)..... travelled to Aussie most years of the 60s...travelled the world for 4 years in early 70s....lived 3 years in South Africa...had 2 kids there....back to NZ in '75...started building business Off to Perth '89....3 kids (awesome girls)...moved to Sydney 2001....2 kids and hubbies live in LA..USA.....6 grandkids..oldest 23...guuuulp!!! Had my last surf 2015 (68 yrs old)...cant complain ...started in '59...55 yrs later...call it a day....awesome!

    Lived early years on top of Brynderwyns (dad built the Tearooms)..... travelled to Aussie most years of the 60s...travelled the world for 4 years in early 70s....lived 3 years in South Africa...had 2 kids there....back to NZ in '75...started building business
    Off to Perth '89....3 kids (awesome girls)...moved to Sydney 2001....2 kids and hubbies live in LA..USA.....6 grandkids..oldest 23...guuuulp!!!
    Had my last surf 2015 (68 yrs old)...cant complain ...started in '59...55 yrs later...call it a day....awesome!

  

Surfers 'mana'...( obituary to IZ ) 'Aloha'..

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