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Shot in the arm rewarded by best Mahurangi Regatta yet

by 2 Feb 2016Regatta 2016, Regatta sponsor

Tessa Berger, prize giving

Shout-Out to Teak Construction: Mahurangi Action president, Tessa Berger, thanking the dozen visiting yacht and boating clubs, the principal regatta sponsor Teak Construction, Auckland Council and other significant supporters of a unique, free-admission event of regional significance. image Sarah Ransom

Criticism of Mahurangi Regatta involvement has finally fully been answered. Ever since it revived the event, in 1977, the question of what a Mahurangi environmental organisation was doing running a regatta had periodically been raised.

That it was a good thing to do was never in question—lovers of the Mahurangi voted with their fleet. The starter’s gun, literally a shotgun in the hands of Commander Karl Henry John Lynch (Henry) Phibbs, boomed out and a tradition that was then already at least 119 years old was indubitably revived, with no question left that it must be an annual event and no one-off, as was the original intention of Friends of the Mahurangi—as Mahurangi Action was then known.

But the legitimate question of whether Mahurangi Action had any business continuing as a regatta organiser would, from time to time, be raised. And it was true that the event was, at best, contributing only indirectly to raising awareness of the environmental needs of the catchment, despite it being the natural and only annual occasion on which this could be overtly accomplished. Then there was the relatively recent damning of the event in its entirety by an embittered ex-secretary, for supposedly significantly polluting his harbour, and earlier, the rogue chairman who managed to insult the dozen visiting yacht and boating clubs by blaming them for the dearth, at that point, of small craft participating.

Saturday evening was a watershed, but fortunately, given the fluidity of forecasts in the 10 days leading up to the event, only in the figurative sense. Mahurangi Action’s new 21-year-old president led the introduction to the prize giving, explaining to the expectant and probably record crowd, that while the handicapper’s results were awaited, was the perfect time to thank the organisations that make the Mahurangi Regatta possible. Having quickly named a score of supporters, with particular mention of the new principal regatta sponsor, Teak Construction, and Auckland Council’s regional, and Rodney Local Board’s, events grants, Tessa Berger referred to her organisation’s work with the council to address the harbour’s elevated sediment accumulation rate, and introduced its leadership of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail concept. revellers were extolled to visit the tent branded for both the regatta and the coastal trail, with view to adding their quick-fire submissions to those collected earlier where the same ‘entries tent’ had performed dual duty at Sullivans Bay.

Tessa then introduced Beth Houlbrooke, who chairs the Rodney Local Board parks, culture and community development committee. Beth’s already considerable support for the regatta had been made rapturous, viewing the afternoon’s racing from aboard Bill and Maggie Burrill’s magnificent launch, the Boudica. Beth concluded by urging the crowd of about a thousand to make submissions regarding the development of Te Muri, and to particularly consider alternative ways of ensuring that the new regional parkland was adequately used—which is key to heading off the building road and parking for thousands of cars on the only other-than-steep land, which is all-too-near the currently splendidly isolated beach. Bill Burrill, as ex-three-term chairman of the Auckland Regional Parks committee, was hugely qualified to complete the advocacy for the Mahurangi environment, with an invitation to the $500-ticket Tu Ngutu Villa celebrity fundraiser being planned.

St Ayles skiffs arriving at Sullivans Bay

Segue from Coastal Trail to Coastal Rowing: The first prize awarded, the John Cole Trophy awarded for aesthetic contribution to the Mahurangi Regatta, to St Ayles skiff promoter Mike Mahoney and his Wee Tawera, provided a nice segue from talk of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, which artist John Cole had supported with his illustrative prowess. image Tanya Ankersmit

A 27-year-earlier campaign to keep Te Muri vehicle free provided the segue to the start of the prize giving. artist John Cole had illustrated the document describing how Te Muri could be developed with a footbridge far enough upstream to preserve the paddling wading or swimming experience visitors had come to cherish, rather than the estuary suffer the indignity of being raped by a great concrete road bridge across its widest point. When John died prematurely his family choose to memorialise him with a Garth Middle-designed bronze trophy evoking a Waitemata A-class keel yacht. St Ayles skiff ‘raid’ organiser Tanya Ankersmit was introduced to explain the choice of John Cole Trophy recipient, which is awarded for aesthetic contribution to the Mahurangi Regatta, this year to Mike Mahoney and his Wee Tawera, accepted on his behalf by fellow skiff proponent Steve Cranch.

After completion of the prize giving, thanks to the crowd having its attention alerted to it, and for as long as the light held, the entries tent was deluged with enthusiastic interest, nicely contributing, to those collected at Sullivans Bay, to a total of 77 pro forma submissions entrusted to Mahurangi Action, 16 of which bore additional messages for Auckland Council, such as:

See [addressing missing section of] Te Araroa Trail as important locally and internationally. This is an opportunity which, if missed now, may NEVER be repeated.

Thanks to the insistence of the principal regatta sponsor Teak Construction, a new, dedicated entries tent had been commissioned, with one entire wall displaying a map of Mahurangi Coastal Trail. This over-sized map proved a palpable means of portraying the opportunity of the coastal trail—immediately placing the concept firmly in the Monty Python category of the bleeding obvious. For many, the close proximity of Wenderholm and Waiwera to Sullivans Bay was a revelation.

Mahurangi West Hall toilets opening

Community Hall Monument to Contribution: The spectacularly successful restoration of the Mahurangi West Hall was due, in no small part, to the expert services of voluntary project manager Stuart Charlton, who is now chief executive officer, and a director of, Teak Construction. The separate toilet building, opened by Rodney Local Board chair Brenda Steele in 2014, hints at what could be created at Scotts Landing, in lieu of expensive-to-hire ‘Portaloos’, much less anything more salubrious. image Auckland Council

There was never any doubt that the Mahurangi Regatta was in dire need of a sponsor, but Teak Construction’s offer, from the outset, hinted at a deeper and more practicable model that often passes for a partnership where one party receives cash and other a dubious amount of exposure for its business. However, it is only now, after what was in so many respects the best regatta yet—save possibly there being less breeze than some sailors craved—that it is fully apparent, post this first joint effort, just how perfect a match has been consummated. While money is always welcome, it can be a mixed blessing, with a finite pool of volunteers being put under even more pressure to deliver more and more—short of a 10 times greater budget than the event’s current $15 000 with which to employ staff. What the deed of sponsorship with Teak Construction signals, and delivered far beyond the Mahurangi Action’s expectations during this first joint effort, was help with the planning, setup, delivery and breakdown. The sponsor’s presence was not overbearing but supportive, from the new tent shading the certificate inscribers to the offer of ‘leftover’ barbecued gourmet sausages at the Teak Construction tent, to kids who found themselves famished after the marathon of beach events.

Teak Construction’s injection of $5000 cash and at least $3000 in kind resulted in a number of additional, highly desirable, unintended consequences. An example is the catering for the band and volunteers at Scotts Landing, which until this year had involved a small team from Mahurangi West, typically including some bribed family members, and an expenditure of hundreds of dollars on ingredients. This year, thanks to Teak Construction directly organising so much of the logistics, Mahurangi Action’s secretary was able to delegate the job of feeding musicians, free-regatta-minibus drivers etc. to Scotts Landing residents. But there was a financial gain as well, in that the new catering corps prevailed upon Warkworth New World for the ingredients and drinks involved, to the value of $500.

Not all went to plan. The $340 worth of merchandise donated by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron that should have been auctioned at the prize giving, wasn’t, through an age-related oversight. The contribution consists of two RNZYS-branded Gear Up sailing jackets—both large—and a $100 voucher for the squadron’s Quarterdeck Restaurant.

Let the bidding—and the long-term planning with Teak Construction and all the other contributors to the magnificent Mahurangi Regatta—begin!