Whangarei Orienteering Club | History & welcome to ONZ 
By Christo Peters - Fri 31 May 2024 6:38pm
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Exciting news! Whangarei Orienteering club have officially joined Orienteering New Zealand as a stand alone club. Up until now they have been a subsidiary club with North West Orienteering Club. The process of becoming a stand alone club has taken some time and effort, and so has compiling of the club history up until now.  So this is  a ‘as far as we know’ brief history of the Whangarei Orienteering club up to the present day put together by current members. We’re sure they would appreciate any more addition to the history. 

To the best of our knowledge, the Whangarei Orienteering club was formed in 1985 by Rhys Thompson and Mike Williams. Early names involved with the club were: Paul Smale, Steve Poole, Ross Green, Colin Davidson, Bruce Pickford, John Cook, Anne & Bob Christie, Janice Cyprian, and the surveyor John Haselden.

Early maps were black and white including Tangiteroria Forest, North and South Mangawhai, Parakao and Mosquito Gulley to name a few. The colour photocopier arrived about the same time as OCAD 4 and was a huge advance, the first colour map being Glenbervie forest which was first used for a 3 day event in 1988. This was followed by Phoebes Lake and Managawhai forest used for a 3 day event, mapped by Bill Teahan.

On event day, if you were lucky the organisers had printed your course on a 4-colour map. Otherwise, you got blessed with 2 minutes to copy your course onto your map yourself.  Purple ballpoint pens were provided!

WHO ran an OY event for quite a few years as a contribution to the Auckland O scene. David Nevin and Richard Rankin would swap controller and setter duties.

In 2003 the club went into recession. Around 2009/10, Paul Potter and Anna Hainsworth decided to revive the club and started an urban street series. Over the next few years, the club slowly grew in strength and talent with people like David Nevin, Malcom Mack, Trevor Murray, joining forces and getting some pretty good maps together. Olivia Ford/McLeod came along and introduced a whole new bevy of school kids from Whangarei Girls and Boys High. The club was also fortunate to have the Monckton family relocate from NWOC up to WHO which gave another boost of talented orienteers and mappers to our club. There have been many others involved, I have just named a few that spring to mind and this does not diminish the many others that have helped along the way!

Up to 2024 we functioned as a subsidiary club under the care of NWOC. This was a great relationship that served us very well and for which we are extremely grateful. As we looked to develop and grow the sport in Northland, it became apparent that the next step for us was to form as a club in our own right and affiliate with ONZ. This has finally been completed, a committee has formed, and we have a dedicated team of people all keen to make the most of WHO and provide quality maps and events for all to enjoy.

Our current office bearers are – President – Steve Hill, Vice President – Baz Ruddell, Secretary – Frances Hill, Treasurer – Kirsten Blake. Other roles in the committee we have are: Maps – David Nevin, Equipment – Dave Spoonley, Social media – Alex Watson. Kirsty Hamlin, Anna Hainsworth, and Christine Bellman make up the balance of our team.

Our club runs a pretty full calendar of events each year. From February we run a weekly Urban-street series across Whangarei utilising MapRun. These are always well attended, fun events. In April we transition to our traditional O events and incorporate a night event around the winter solstice then a 3 hour “Big City” Rogaine in July. It is usually so wet underfoot in July we can disappear in the mud!

Some of the predominate features of Northland we have to deal with and embrace are: dense gorse, pampas, sub-tropical weather, possums, and relentless/rugged terrain. In saying this, we do have some pretty cool maps such as: Lovells and Blakes farms, Pauls Bush, Mimiwhangata and Smugglers DOC reserves. Our latest is Wheki forest at Tangiteroria. This is a huge farm just planted in pine with 4 separate maps. 

We do sometimes get a few guest runners who venture north from clubs in the south which we love! I think they mostly enjoy the change of terrain/new maps and our relaxed style up here. We are always looking to learn so feel free to offer your advice if you’re ever up this way and we’d love to welcome you to an event!

Ngā Mihi
Steve Hill – WHO Club President

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