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Talk with Mondo Kopua | Marlborough Orienteering Club President 
By Joolz - Sun 20 Dec 2020 9:30pm
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Southern O Week starts in Marlborough on 9th January 2021 with Nelson and Marlborough Orienteering clubs working together to host the first events. It is time to find out about the Marlborough Orienteering Club (MOC) and ask their president how the club is attracting a bunch of new members recently. Thanks Mondo for taking the time to talk with us.

How did you get into orienteering? I think my first event was in 1998, Taylor Dam, Blenheim. Soon after I headed overseas and upon my return, in 2001, I completed a yellow course at West Bay, St Arnaud. 

What started it all? A notice in the local newspaper. 

When did you join a club?  What motivated you to join? 2001. As with most sports or interests I’ve generally joined a club primarily to support them, often getting involved on a committee, helper, working bees and the like. Also to learn from other people. I’ve been involved with the committee since 2002 spending several years in various roles, taking a short break when our family was young but getting involved again in the last few years.   

Read the rest of the chat with Mondo here (will place on website)

What orienteering areas / maps do you like? What orienteering skills are you still mastering? Maps that are tight, technical and have lots of detail – sand dunes, forests and Lake Rotoiti. In recent years having to wear glasses has added to the challenge so maps at a scale of 1:7,500 are greatly appreciated! There has always been one control or leg that could have been better isn’t there?

What’s your personal orienteering claim to fame? I think I’ve had some success locally with encouraging other people to get into orienteering by sharing the fun and benefits of orienteering. 

Who do you admire in the orienteering community, or who is the one you like to watch or compare to? I’ve always admired families, older aged people (I’m talking Super Gold Card) and people of all abilities (shapes, sizes and fitness) from the very first events that I went to. It’s one of the few sports I know of where such a cross section of people can compete on the same terrain, sometimes on the same courses and be social and/or competitive.

What are some of the events you really remember? And why? Good or bad! The Yellow course that I did in 2001 which I did really well at,  then going out and doing the Orange course and ending up at control 3 instead of control 1!  Different map scale – doh!! Also my first orienteering nationals in Hawkes Bay 2017 along with my family. We had a lot of fun at the event but doing other fun stuff as well while we were there. As I work in the grape industry, I haven’t been able to attend nationals as we are either harvesting in April, or frost fighting in October. Recent changes to my role has allowed me to be able to attend more events.    

What future untapped prospects can you see for events in the future? Have you seen any good events you can share that were fun or looked interesting?We trialled the MapRun app this year with positive results and encouraging feedback. I certainly see a lot of benefits for a small club like ours in hosting regular score events as part of our summer and winter series. Many people were able to go and do the courses at a time that suited them and their circumstances.  

What do new members want to know about your club, and your events? More recently we’ve had an increase in membership and interest from women that have already or are doing events such as Spring Challenge, Summer Challenge and Spirited Women’s AR. Also teams competing in the Absolute Wilderness AR and GODZone. These events have navigation and often utilise orienteering maps from local clubs. A lot of teams are realising that they need to up their skills and spend more time on their navigation. When they come along they have fun and several of them have then brought their families and/or friends along. The challenge for a small club like us with very few organisers is to have the capability and time to host more traditional orienteering type events.    

How do you think your club different from the others? We are a small club (but growing) with a vast majority of our members (and non-members) who are content to compete just at our local events. We support (and encourage) new people to go out as a team. Often this makes people more comfortable, more social and teams enjoy the banter and challenge against each other. Only about a dozen members compete at Nelson O Club events or other events outside of our region. The exception to this would be for rogaines with the Wily Weka, Heights of Winter, NZRA Rogaine Champs and the few events in North Canterbury being popular with our members. Our membership is quite diverse and reflective of the wide range of primary industries and businesses – marine, forestry, grapes, sheep & beef, dairy and all the support services of these, active/outdoor adventure tourism, etc. With this come a fantastic network of ‘someone knows someone’ that is very helpful at times. We make an effort to welcome people to our events and the club with the emphasis on wanting to share our enthusiasm for navigation events. We’re more focused on people having fun rather than our membership base. 

Anything else you would like to say about your club and what it is going particularly well in MOC?  We are fortunate to have the Nelson Orienteering Club less than 90mins travel away and we share resources, support each others events and whenever we are away at a national event they welcome us as part of their whanau. Special mention in particular to Michael Croxford who has been a major help and support for us. His experience, wisdom and skills has been invaluable. 

Any advice for orienteers just starting out? It depends on what people want to get out of it as there are so many levels to orienteering – social, fitness, skills, competition/competitive, fun etc. Often I suggest to people to learn about the map features and legend. Take a local map out with them outside of an event and spend time interpreting the map and what’s on the ground. Use some events as training and try different techniques and skills, do an event other than your local ones. Also,  you don’t need any fancy or expensive gear – the type of compass and SI Card is about as expensive as it gets! And no it isn’t compulsory to wear some of the clothing that some orienteers wear!  

  Above: Mondo studying the map at Ferny Gair – Waihopai Valley, with the Richmond Ranges in the distance.

#MarlboroughOrienteeringClub #MOC

About Contributor: Joolz

I call myself an adventuress (but not to godzone standard - OK?) designer, photographer and communicator. Challenging outdoors stuff makes food the other passion. I’ll always take the most torturous route to a control, you’ll only find me if you start looking off the map.

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