For half a century Waimairi beach has been popular with bathers and as early as 1929 a surf club was established here. This was known as the Waimairi Beach Life Saving Club. It operated for about twelve years and went out of existence during the war. Vandals destroyed the Club premises.
After the war, so popular did Waimairi Beach become, that a need was felt for a surf club there. This need became urgent one Saturday in 1948 when a few of the regular bathers had difficulty rescuing a young man caught in a rip.Two Waimairi County Councilors, who had witnessed the struggle, reported the urgent need for a surf lifesaving club on the beach, with the result that the council approached the Canterbury Surf Life Saving Association and offered assistance in establishing the premises. A public meeting was called for the 7th July 1949, at which an attendance of fifty interested people discussed the formation of the club. The meeting chaired by the President of the Canterbury Surf Life saving Association, a Mr Alec Stokes, unanimously decided to establish a club and elected the first officers.These were:
At the Club’s first meeting, a plan of a proposed pavilion was submitted by Mr George Griffiths, Patron of the Canterbury Surf Life Saving Association – a true friend of all Canterbury surf Clubs. This was, of necessity, a very modest building. The meeting also prepared a draft constitution. When a suitable site for the new club had been chosen, a working bee was held to level it. This was attended by club and association members. Shovels, barrows and planks for the barrows to run the barrows on were used to such effect that by noon we had a base prepared for our building.With a grant of $150 from the Waimairi county council, a donation of $10 from the Waimairi beach golf club, $100 from the Surf Association, the result of the sale of the assests of the old club and the near certainty of a grant of $200 from the Internal affairs dept, we decided to go ahead with the building. This consisted of 1 room with a shower in the corner. It was no palace, But Jim Sutherland built it for us for $347 (less than $700 in today’s money). It was “ours”, dept free and our very own. We were very proud of it, and when we had installed seats, clothes hooks, water and electric light, we had a credit balance of $6!!
To prevent the easterly wind scooping the sand out around the piles, a truckload of clay was spread under the building. Lupins were stacked against the easterly wall to break the force of the wind, then marram grass and ice plant were planted to bind the sand.
Membership began to grow. In 1950 wives were accepted as lady social members. At that time only one other club accepted women as members. Soon applications were coming from girls wishing to be active members – patrolling, competing and ‘serving as hostesses on social occasions’. Both genders have since enjoyed equal partnership as lifeguards, competitors, coaches, committee members, and social hosts/hostesses.
The last 50 years
The winter of 1978 saw very high tides erode the sand hills and undermine the gear shed. Tonnes of sand disappeared from the beach. The club is now protected by an apron around the eastern frontage, constructed of 100 cubic metres of boulders, enmeshed in a Reno mattress. Thanks to the initiative and hard work of club members, professional advisors, local community and businesses, Waimairi Country Council and the NZ Army.
The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 did little damage to the clubhouse. In fact club members pulled together to ensure everyone was okay during this turbulent time – testament to the very strong sense of family within the club.
LOCATIONCnr Marine Parade and Beach Road, Waimairi, Christchurch
Friday 15th November 2023 to Sunday 17th March 2024
Saturdays: 11:00 to 17:00
Sundays: 11:00 to 17:00