There is no denying that surfing is embedded in the heart of Raglan, and plays a vital role in the wellbeing of our community. Through our latest Surf Series we have gotten to know some of Raglan’s up-and-coming surfers and their families. It is inspiring to hear their stories and feel their passion for the waves.
It has reminded us of some of the stories we were lucky enough to hear a few years back when we ran a series called, ‘Surf Into Summer’.
‘Surf Into Summer’ took us deep into what many would call ‘the beginning’ of surfing in Raglan.
We thought it would be timely to share a little bit about those who paved the way for surfing in our community. Although there are only a few around who might still remember their names–their stories, experiences and love for the water has played a vital role in the waves we are lucky enough to surf today and laid the ground for the surfing community of Raglan.
And if you’re going to surf at Manu Bay, you should at least know about ‘The Originals’.
Manu Bay wasn’t always the spot for surfing in Raglan. Prior to 1960, most of the ‘surfing’ was happening out at Whale Bay, on surf skis.
It wasn’t until 1960 on a legendary day in February that the Manu Bay waves came to life, and would be forever etched into surfing history. For a few years, Peter Miller had been driving out from Hamilton to surf at Whale Bay. But on the 28th of February in 1960 (a date that was confirmed thanks to the diligent diary keeping of Peter’s wife), the towering waves forming around the point were irresistible.
And Peter, with his handmade 10-foot Malibu board walked down the hillside at Manu Bay and took the plunge. Little did Peter know that this decision would be the spark that would ignite a surfing revolution, and put Raglan on the global surfing map.
Peter Miller was just one of The Originals; aptly named for being the original surfers of Manu Bay. The Originals included the likes of Richard Carr, Campbell Ross, Ces Marsh, Mike Court (who would go on to bring the Billabong franchise to New Zealand), and a handful of others.
It was The Originals who established The [Hamilton] Point Boardriders Club in 1962, which is still active today and known as The Raglan Point Boardriders Club.
Many might not know, but there was once a clubhouse at Manu Bay for the Boardriders–an old shack trucked out from Hamilton where The Originals would lock their boards inside. After a few years though, the clubhouse was overran with rats, so Mike Court went out and burned it to the ground. And that was that.
If you look closely at some of the old Boardrider’s trophies, you’ll see that the contests date back to the early 1960’s. Inspired by The Originals and the 1959 surf film ‘Gidget,’ Butch Walters, a Raglan local, got himself a board and jumped in the water. In 1964, Butch won the first Junior’s Point Board Rider’s competition. At that time, he was one of only a couple “Raglan locals” who actually surfed, with the rest of the very small lineup hailing from Hamilton, Auckland and Australia
Believe it or not, but surfing at Indicator’s didn’t happen until the mid-70’s. Nowadays you consider yourself lucky if you get a carpark out at Whale Bay on those big days.
The Raglan Point Boardriders have been instrumental in carrying on the legacy and the passion left behind by The Originals. Both in the water and well beyond the waves.
by Karamea Puriri