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Our History

From the forming of the club in 1958, the opening on the 3rd August 1962 and every volcanic eruption since, we've had a varied and full history.

In this section, our members past & present tell you in words and pictures all about what it's like to be a part of our club, and everything they've done in the surrounding Tongariro region.

If you're a member (or past member) and have anything to contribute, please do contact us!

Letters and Documents

The Early Years by Don Rolfe

Contributed by Don Rolfe

During the years following the formation of the Club the two main tasks were to raise funds to build the lodge and to build our membership to 100. We tried numerous schemes but by far the most successful were the Auckland Birthday Carnivals held at Western Springs in 1959, 1960 and 1961. They were organised by the Public Relations Office and Clubs could hire a site for the duration (about 2 weeks including Anniversary weekend). This cost £35. On this site we built a stall and ran various fund raising activities. We were obliged to enter a float in the parade and an entry in the Carnival Queen competition. Our entrant Valerie Mann won this competition in 1960. We were not able to copy fund raising activities used by other organisation in previous years. Our highly successful innovation in 1959 was a lucky dip. By the end of the first two days all our prizes had gone and we searched the city to buy further prizes. In 1960 we introduced a skittle alley that was highly successful. We set 10 skittles as in 10 pin bowling and competitors were allowed 2 balls to knock over all the skittles. Keith Waugh manufactured the skittles in his factory and Joe Fullager produced some heavily weighted rubber balls no longer required by the Drainage Board. The marks for placing the skittles were painted on the alley and members stood behind replacing the skittles after each turn.

In 1961 we doubled the number of alleys and managed to procure used croquet balls from local clubs. The stall was adjacent to the creek and our building had walls of hardboard. On the weekend when we were very busy competitors became quite excited and many shots were airborne. Consequently replacing the skittles became a hazardous occupation and of course many of the wayward throws passed through the hardboard and ended in the creek - often not to be recovered. In retrospect we were very lucky to have this opportunity to raise funds. It was far superior to any other options we tried and it provided us with the funds for the original construction of the lodge. The carnivals ceased as the Auckland Public Relations office lost money each year.

At the 1959 carnival Wallace and Bryan McLeod visited our stall and asked about joining Boomerang. This was their introduction to the club.

A Taumarunui builder gave us a quotation to close in the lodge during the summer of 1959/60. We accepted this quotation but he never carried out the work. Consequently the following summer we decided to carry out the work ourselves. In November 1959 I travelled to the mountain with Joe Fullager, Allan Scott, and Ian Fordyce. Allan was in charge of the building and he had arranged for a bulldozer to level the site. We left Auckland very early Saturday morning and met the bulldozer driver at the Chateau. To his disappointment the carrier had dropped the machine there and he had to drive it up the road, a journey that lasted an hour.

We set off in Allan's car with a concrete mixer on the trailer. Just past Scoria Flat the snow was about 2 inches deep and we became stuck. We waited in the car for the bulldozer which then towed us to the top of the road. By this time the weather was atrocious. Allan and I stood under the eaves of the National Park Ski Club building and directed the driver to move rocks to level the site. I have always had great admiration for that driver. He stayed out in the weather on the bulldozer for 3 or 4 hours in those atrocious conditions without adequate clothing and did everything we asked of him. We returned to the overnight shelter and lit the fire while he drove the machine back down the road. He sat in front of the fire for a couple of hours with steam pouring off him while we plied him with hot drinks. We received an account for £25 which was remarkably cheap.

The Sunday was a fine day and we set out the profiles for the building. I was then surprised to learn that the footings were to be dug the next weekend and that I was in charge of the operation. The original building was 40ft x 25ft. The following weekend I went down with Bryan McLeod and Bill Hobday. We worked steadily during the weekend and finished by about lunch time Sunday. During the week Bryan had taken delivery of a brand new Ford Customline V8 and was very proud of it! On the way home Bill and I were given the opportunity of test driving the new car (in those days only farmers could buy new cars). By the time we reached the Southern motorway Bryan was driving again and wished to prove that the car could reach 100mph. This attempt was unsuccessful - not surprising when he discovered a couple of days later that a plug lead was not connected.

The following weekend I returned to the mountain with Keith Waugh, my brother and a few others to pour the footings. Nothing unusual happened that time except that water for the concrete was not readily available and we had to carry it some distance to the mixer. Some time later I returned with Ian Runnerstrum and Pat O'Malley to lay the basement blocks. Allan Scott brought down 3 blocklayers who assured us they could lay the blocks in a weekend for cash if we provided the labourers to mix mortar and carry the blocks. Saturday weather was atrocious and we were unable to do any work. At 4.30a.m. Sunday Pat O'Malley woke us to say that the rain had stopped. We hastily ate breakfast and proceeded to the top of the road. We started mixing mortar in the dark and prepared to start in the corner below where the kitchen window is now situated. The chief blocklayer dragged an old envelope from his pocket and asked us all to write our names on it. He decided that as I was the youngest I could have the honour of laying the first block. I took the trowel and after placing the envelope on the foundations placed the first block, and tapping it with the trowel, solemnly stated (as instructed) "I do hereby well and truly lay this block". After we had laid the blocks about 3 or 4 rows high at that end of the building the rain became heavier and the mortar started to wash out between the blocks. We had to give up for the day and return home.

Subsequently, the lodge was sheathed with Durox sidings, as we had been given an undertaking by the manufacturers that they would be ideal for the mountain conditions. However they soon disintegrated and the lodge had to be re-sheathed. We are still picking up the pieces of fibrolite 36 years later. The lodge finally opened to members in August 1962.

Another early disaster was the stove. Long before the lodge was built, we purchased a second hand wood burning stove which appeared to be ideal for the mountain. It is worth remembering that fuel burning stoves were usual in lodges at that time, as power cuts were quite frequent and lengthy (i.e. several days). This was purchased in Auckland and stored in the Crum Brick & Tile factory at New Lynn. When we came to install it in the lodge, it turned out to be useless and had to be thrown away. Consequently the Raeburn was purchased and installed.

I mentioned earlier that we set a membership target of 100. This proved far more difficult to achieve than we ever imagined. Within a year we had about 30 members, but growth was slow. Rather unwisely, our original constitution stated that a quorum of 25 members was required for an AGM and I well remember telephoning club members from a phone booth near the hall begging them to come to the meeting so we could have a quorum.

On a completely different topic, we had two marriages within the club, where the partners met through membership of the Ski Club. Both well before the completion of the lodge. Ian Crum and Marjorie Woollett, Royce Green and Faye Pitman. Unfortunately, both couples decided that they could not continue ski-ing after marriage and resigned from the club.

In 1960 (or thereabouts) the government passed legislation permitting non-profit organisations to play Housie. There were strict rules regarding the size of the bets and prize money and permits had to be obtained from the police. This was a further means of fund raising for the club and evenings were organised on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. After the initial public enthusiasm disappeared these were not very successful and the game ended up being played largely by club members. The committee had difficulty getting helpers and I well remember receiving a letter indicating that I had been rostered for duty one particular evening. I arrived as instructed to find that all club members had been rostered for the same evening. At least we had a good attendance that night even though there were only 3 or 4 outsiders present.

3 May 1997