Club History

See the article below and associated attachments for information on how the club came into existence.  If you have some more articles of Club History that you would like to share please contact us.  Also if there are any obvious errors in what is attached, your corrections, amendments etc are most welcome.

It was in 1966 that the idea of erecting a ski hut on Mt Ruapehu was first conceived by the officers and men of HMNZS IRIRANGI.  Living as they do so close to the mountain and where their lives are very much affected by the facilities for outdoor sports that the local countryside provides, it was natural that those interested in skiing and alpine activities wanted to gain a permanent footing on Ruapehu.

In order to achieve this an application was made to the National Parks Board for permission to build a "House that Jack Built" on the mountain.
In the same year a site was allocated to the Navy at about 6500 feet on the Eastern side where the Wairouru, Aorangi, and Desert Alpine clubs had already established club lodges, in the area known as the Tukino Village.

The Park Board also indicated that any building must conform to a design that was aesthetically suited to an alpine atmosphere and must also conform to their strict specifications; and further that erection once started was to be completed within two years.  Plans were drawn up and eventually accepted by the then Park Board.  An estimation of the cost of building at that time was 3,500 pounds ($7000) which even at that price allowed for a large proportion of self help labour.  The Park Board also indicated that before we could partake of activities on the mountain as a club, it was necessary to become a member of the New Zealand Ski Association and in order to join the Association it was necessary for the Club to be an incorporated society.
Obviously if the Club was to progress and raise funds it would be necessary to form a properly constituted club and to this end an inaugural meeting of those interested was called by the Commanding Officer of HMNZS IRIRANGI and held in HMNZS PHILOMEL on Friday 15 September 1967.  As a result of this meeting a notice was published informing people of the general aims and plans to form a ski club and inviting people to indicate their support for such a venture.  88 people stated their intentions in support of the formation of such a club.
On Friday 20 October 1967, the first General Meeting was held in the Gymnasium, HMNZS PHILOMEL. At this meeting a draft constitution was passed for acceptance and the first committee elected.  This comprised:

    President: Lt Cdr G.W. Glyde
    Secretary: CPO P. Allen
    Treasurer: Instr. Lt D.A. Stewart
    Members: Lt T. Arthurs
                        Sgn Lt A.J. Newson
                        Chief Radioman J. Hewson

The first tasks which faced the Committee were:
A. To put the Club on a firm foundation based on the constitution by registering as an Incorporated Society;
B. Develop plans for the provision of a ski lodge and skiing facilities for club members;
C. Develop policy and plans that would encourage interest and growth of the club and strengthen its membership.

To this end, the Club became an Incorporated Society on 6 November 1969 and an affiliated member of the NZ Ski Association on 23 May 1969. An approach was made to the central fund advisory committee for a loan or grant of $7000 so that the building of a ski lodge on the allocated site could commence.  At the same time the existence of the new club was advertised to ships and establishments and by members of the club.  Membership rose steadily from 15 who attended the Inaugural Meeting to 73 by May 1968.

Naturally the reaction by the Advisory Committee was that we should show the measure of our strength and support by raising one tenth of the $7000 required, within the club.  This was done and on 9 May the President reported back to the Advisory Committee.
The major problem which was presented to the Committee at this time was however, not so much the raising of the funds, but the maintaining of the support and enthusiasm of the members by the provision of skiing facilities at Ruapehu.
Close to the site allocated to the Club there are three other club lodges, those of Waiouru, Desert Alpine and Aorangi.  During visits to the ski fields during the '68 season, club members had cemented a close liaison - so much so that the Wairouru club permitted us Associate Membership and use of the facilities.  Several members took advantage of this and in spite of some intrepid hazardous experiences in getting to the ski fields at Tukino, thoroughly enjoyed the skiing and hospitality.
On Saturday 17 February 1968, "surveying" of our site was conducted by the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Club Captain.  With due ceremony the President drove the first stake, which after much "expert" deliberation was found to be in the wrong position.  So with somewhat less ceremony on the second occasion the peg was driven again and an area 45' by 32' "pegged-out".  During the remainder of that summer, much hard work by club members was carried out in levelling the site and general preparation for the commencement of building.

During this time the committee was also busy raising $700 to comply with the requirements of the Central Fund Committee.  The balance sheet for the year ending February 1970 showed that this obstacle had been overcome.
However, during the previous year the Committee had been studying and considering some of the problems inherent in building at Tukino.  We had found from experience that the Turoa fields at Ohakune not only provided better snow conditions, but getting to the ski fields was considerably easier as an accessible road took one to the ski fields.  Another factor which caused us to seek new pastures was that it was the Park Boards' intention to develop that area in preference to the Eastern side and talks were already under way to this effect.

John Burton who was now "Squire of Irirangi" with a good deal of assistance from the Mayor of Ohakune John Gould and the "Ski Ohakune Committee", found an unoccupied building at the foot of the mountain road in Ohakune, close to the railway station.  Investigations showed that building was soundly constructed, consisted of a lounge, five bedrooms, kitchen, washplace and the usual offices, and had been constructed in the period 1920-1930 for NZ Railways as hostel accommodation for the girls who worked the tea rooms in those flourishing days at Ohakune when the night steam trains stopped for tea and refreshment. The building had been unoccupied for about five years since the education department, who were using it as teacher accommodation, vacated it.  We found that it was now in the hands of the Commissioner of Crown Lands. A visit to the Commissioner in Wellington by the President in May 1970 showed that the Youth Hostel Association had already made a tentative bid to purchase the building for use as a hostel.  The next step was to write to the Association and convince them that it wasn't really what they were looking for and in any case it was too remote from the main road for their patrons who were usually trampers.  After a long delay the Association replied to the effect that they had been allocated a section adjacent to the main road in Ohakune and on this they planned to build a new hostel.  From this development it was strongly suspected that the Ski Ohakune Committee had been lobbying in support of the application of our club.
On 3 July 1970, notification was received from the secretary of the YHA that they were no longer interested in the Railway Hostel. An approach was made to the Commissioner of Crown Lands with a view to purchase. Meanwhile a thorough survey of the hostel was generously carried out by the Officer-in-Charge Ministry of Works at Waiouru (Mr Ted O'Callaghan) and this report formed the basis of a letter to the Commodore Auckland indicating our intention to seek a loan for the purchase and refurbishing of the railway hostel building.

On 29 July a letter was received from the Department of Lands and Survey which indicated that the freehold purchase price would be $2,250 and that the club should insert in local newspapers circulating in the Ohakune district a notice to the effect that the club intended purchase of the property, and that objections from other persons should be lodged within one month.  Fortunately for the club, the only reaction was one of local interest in enquiring where the hostel building was situated.  Apparently many local people did not know of its existence.

A formal application for a loan or grant from the central fund was forwarded to the Commodore Auckland on 31 August 1970 for presentation to the central fund advisory committee at their next meeting.
The Club's application for a grant of $2,250 was approved by the trustees of the RNZN Central Fund on 14 January 1971, together with a generous donation of forty dollars from HMNZS TARANAKI and OTAGO and Twenty dollars from HMNZS KIAMA.
An historic day for the club was 18 March 1971 when the payment for the hostel building was acknowledged by the Commissioner of Crown Lands and we became the proud property owners of our own ski lodge.
So the dreams and aspirations of those who attended the inaugural meeting some four years and three months earlier were at last realised, and the work and loyalty of members of the Club and Committee was finally rewarded.
This short history of how the club came into being would be incomplete, and indeed the formation and development of the Club, without the generous support in varying forms that we have received from those we have come into contact with during our short life.  The support of the Clubs First Patron and Vice Patron Admiral L.G. Carr and Commodore J.P.S. Vallant, together with the Mayor of Ohakune, Mr John Gould, Mr Ted O'Callaghan and others too numerous to mention here, has been a major factor in our development.  The grateful thanks and appreciation of all present members and those who will enjoy the facilities of the club in future years is herewith recorded.

The past is written, the foundation is laid, the future lies ahead.  An amenity such as we now have for members of the Royal New Zealand Navy and their families is invaluable.  Its future is in the hands of those who follow. 
Lissa Jackson,
18 Jul 2009, 16:37
Lissa Jackson,
4 Aug 2009, 15:23
Lissa Jackson,
4 Aug 2009, 15:24
Lissa Jackson,
18 Jul 2009, 16:39
Lissa Jackson,
4 Aug 2009, 15:23