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Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club Opens New “community Asset” 10 Years On From Devastating Earthquakes

Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club (TMSLSC) celebrated a significant milestone in their 105 year history on Sunday (7 February) with the official opening of their new clubhouse, ten years after the earthquakes damaged the previous facility.

The clubhouse is the first of three surf clubs in Canterbury to open this year, with South Brighton and New Brighton due to open theirs late 2021. All surf clubs were damaged in the earthquakes, and have received NZ Government Shovel Ready Project Initiative funding to assist after insurance negotiations and fundraising left them with shortfalls.

For Taylors Mistake, their clubhouse was deemed untenable by engineers in 2016, meaning lifeguard patrols and general clubhouse operations had to operate out of three temporary portacoms for five years.

“Today is an incredibly exciting day. Our lifeguards and members finally have a permanent base again, and the community has a fantastic new asset to utilise” said Taylors Mistake SLSC President Vivienne Bickley.

“Living out of portacoms has had its challenges but we’re proud of the great shape the Club is in. We’re seeing strong membership growth, our junior surf programme has a significant waitlist, and last season we made top 10 at The Nationals Championships, and were the top performing Canterbury club. It’s a real credit to our members and our ‘family-style’ culture.” Says Bickley.

The clubhouse rebuild itself was a “family affair” with many members actively involved in the design and construction.

“Right from the outset our members told us they wanted a clubhouse centred around the needs of lifeguarding and the Club – rather than a venue built for hire purposes. They were also adamant that the building had to blend in with the natural landscape. These two elements set the tone for the design and build” said Wilson and Hill architect Dave Hill, who is also a life member and past President.

“It’s been a work of love by many of our members – we’ve really utilised the talents and skills of our past and present membership to bring this rebuild to life in the most cost-effective way.” said Ken Jones, rebuild project manager and the Club’s immediate past President.

The new facilities feature a specially-designed patrol and medical room to facilitate lifeguarding duties on the beach. In addition, the clubhouse features a pavilion, kitchen, ‘family room’, toilets, showers and gear shed to house the essential lifeguarding equipment such as the IRBs (inflatable rescue boats).

The opening event attracted over 150 guests made up of club members, local community and a small number of dignitaries. The clubhouse was officially opened with a ceremonial ribbon cutting by Club Patron Jim Turpin and a selected group of junior surf members, a reflection of the importance the Club places on having strong relationships with all generations - past, present and future lifeguards.

“In surf life saving we have a saying: in it for life. At Taylor’s that not only extends to you, but your children and then your children’s children. And you really are a Taylors’ member for life!” said Jim Turpin, Club Patron.

The opening event also featured the gifting of a pare by Maui Stuart of Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke (Rāpaki). Carved out of kauri which has a significant connection to the sea, the pare was designed and carved by Damian Mackie. The Club worked with Rāpaki throughout the rebuild process and is committed to continuing to strengthen its relationship with mana whenua .

In true Taylors Mistake fashion, the event concluded with a ceremonious ‘World Wave’ competition – a Club tradition which sees participants wait at the back of the surf break until a pre-appointed person ‘calls’ the wave – the first person back to the shore takes the coveted title and ‘World Wave belt’.

Lifeguards also began occupying the new facilities on Sunday with volunteer patrols operating from within the patrol operations room. The committee is currently developing a venue hire policy for limited hire purposes, and welcomes expressions of interest from not-for-profit community groups that may benefit from use of the facilities.

“At the heart of our Club, we are about community. We deliver an essential service through our lifeguarding, and we want the clubhouse to be seen as an asset for everyone” said Bickley.

About Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club: Operating essential lifeguarding services on Canterbury’s southernmost patrolled beach since 1916, the Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club is a voluntary organisation. Members give up their personal time to ensure beach-goers return home safely to loved ones. In the past ten years members have provided in excess of 15,000 voluntary patrol hours, and carried out more than 200 rescues and 80,000 preventative actions. In addition members are often involved with numerous after hour call outs, searches and first aid services each season.

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