In 1954 the idea for a surf lifesaving club at Mairangi Bay was born at a fancy dress party held in the Mairangi Bay community hall.
The first clubhouse was in the basement of a member’s home on the beach at Mairangi Bay with an old wooden reel and a wooden ski, 1 metre wide and 6” thick and needing two men to carry it to and from the beach.
The next clubhouse was then built in front of the toilet block, which is still on the beach under the present club. The construction was from old packing cases supplied from the Auckland wharf.
The first recorded rescue from the new patrol was in the summer of 1956 when two caught in a rip were pulled out by club members.
Next came a new clubhouse on the same site – a two-story structure with patrol tower and storage facilities. This building was altered in the 1980’s to remove an internal staircase to add more space. Even later in the 1980’s came a boat shed across the road from the club. Finally further container storage was added to this area as the club continued to grow and the need for more storage came more and more critical.
The opening of the Harbour Bridge at the end of the 1950s became the catalyst for further expansion of the North Shore. The ‘Shore’ became much more accessible to Aucklanders and the migration north of the main city began in earnest.
Gradually all the other surf clubs on the North Shore were disbanded, leaving Mairangi Bay as the sole Surf Lifesaving Club on the North Shore. This fact alone encouraged the Club to become more and more a training area and feeder club for many of the west coast and northern clubs. Over many years the Club assisted with organised patrols on many other beaches including, Bethells Beach, North Piha, Sunset Beach and Muriwai. Assistance was also given to Northland clubs and over many years a patrol was mounted at Long Bay.
With the early emphasis on building a lifesaving culture at the club, competition was minimal and lack of adequate equipment and coaching meant competing against the big boys of Piha, Eastern United and Muriwai was very difficult.
Over time the Club began to compete at a higher level and a keen group began participating at the National Championships throughout the country and caused a major upset when in 1964 Mairangi Bay won the Open March Past at the NZ Champs. Over the following years more national titles were to come with the club producing some outstanding competitive members.
The advent of the Kellogg’s Interclub competition in the 1990’s saw Mairangi Bay come to the fore. The interclub format was held for 3 years with Mairangi Bay winning the last two years before the format was changed to inter district. One of these victories was achieved at our own beach and was televised nationwide.
Mairangi Bay has not however managed to win the coveted Allan Gardner Shield for National supremacy but on more than one occasion has finished in the top three and for a number of years consistently in the top 10 clubs in the country.
Over the years the Club has contributed to NZ teams to World Championships and international competition at the highest level.
Although Mairangi Bay morphed into a Surf Sports powerhouse, lifesaving has always remained at the core of the Club’s purpose and in the early 2000’s the Club extended its patrol services to multiple North Shore beaches including Long Bay, Browns Bay, Milford and Takapuna. During this expansion, Mairangi Bay began offering water safety services to various events such as the Takapuna Beach Series.
History of Mairangi Bay
An excerpt from the Mairangi Bay Reserve management plan
Maori first occupied Auckland’s North Shore centuries ago. The coastal environment provided an abundance of food that was sourced from the local streams and the coastal fishing grounds. The fertile land provided further sources of food and the coastal location provided opportunities for lookout points and transportation routes.
The coastal strip between Campbells Bay (south of Mairangi Bay) and Murrays Bay (to the north) was named by Maori ‘Waipapa Bay’. Translated this means water over wood. The name referred to quantities of logs and timber thought to be the remains of a fossilised forest that were revealed at low tide. Iwi who have identified with the area at the time of developing this management plan include Ngati Whatua o Orakei, Ngati Paoa, Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, Ngati Maru and Te Kawerau a Maki.
In the 1880s the first European settler (Mr Joseph Murray) arrived in Mairangi Bay and purchased land for pastoral farming. Mr Murray cleared six to eight acres per year planting corn and wheat. In 1891 he erected a windmill in what is now Scarboro Terrace. This windmill was used by incoming ships as a landmark when entering Auckland.
At this time Mairangi Bay was called Little Murrays and Murrays Bay was known as Big Murrays. By 1900, the East Coast Bays area was becoming popular for holiday homes due to its coastal location. The sale of Murray’s coastal farm in 1912 resulted in developers subdividing the land and sections were sold for holiday homes. After Mr Murray left the district, a solicitor drew up a petition to rename Little Murrays Bay Awatea Bay. However, upon finding that there was a beach with this name in the South Island, Mairangi Bay was decided on. There is discussion on the full meaning of Mairangi. Translations include ‘from the heavens’, ‘song from heaven’, ‘hidden (or sheltered) arm’ and ‘maire tree’. It is thought the residents ultimately chose the name as they understood it to mean ‘welcome sun’.
The first store was opened in 1916 by a Mr Pond on the beachfront. In 1925 it was replaced further west away from the beach after the first store was washed away in a high tide. Buildings and general supplies for Mairangi Bay were shipped in by sailing scows, which were unloaded on the beach at low tide.
The road from Milford to Mairangi Bay was completed by 1925. At this time Mairangi Bay served primarily as a holiday resort with only a few permanent residents. By 1928 Montrose Terrace and Sidmouth Street were named. Sites for property homes sold steadily up until the beginning of World War II. In 1942 efforts were made to fortify the New Zealand coast against possible invasion during World War II. The East Coast Bays would have provided a suitable landing area for an enemy wishing to seize Auckland. Therefore machine gun emplacements and other materials were placed along the coast. One such emplacement was located to the north of Mairangi Bay Beach Reserve. Now obliterated it was located on the slope above Montrose Terrace on the inland side of the commencement of the walking track.
After the war permanent homes began to be built. In 1954 the Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club (surf lifesaving club) was formed and the clubhouse was built on Mairangi Bay Beach Reserve. Over the years the clubhouse has been extended as the club has grown. The completion of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959 meant easier access to Auckland’s East Coast Bays and therefore the area became popular for permanent residents.