True Tales Of the Tutukaka Coast



Cultivating our own Garden

Voltaire, the eighteenth century French philosopher, once wrote: “We must cultivate our own garden.”  In other words, knowing more about our own familiar environment, and taking a pride in it, helps us to make sense of our place in the world.

In many ways, it is a privilege to live on the Tutukaka Coast, rated in 2010 by National

Geographic Magazine as one of the three best coastlines in the world, and therefore, presumably, the best in New Zealand. We have 26 pristine beaches on our coastline, opportunities for recreation in the form of swimming, kayaking, horse-riding, fishing, deep-sea diving …, idyllic seascapes, an enviably relaxed lifestyle. What’s not to like?

However, the focus of this book is to define the uniqueness of our lives on the Tutukaka Coast by serving up a smorgasbord of anecdotes and tales to create a positive view of our daily life here, and profiling people and institutions that form part of our social fabric.

At times we have researched past events and personalities, recording the efforts and trials of ordinary people managing to do extraordinary things, acting without permits and re-source consents, without machinery and computerised tools. Number 8 fencing wire was never so important.

This book would not have happened without the willing-ness of local folk to tell their own stories. Their stories are included in good faith. There may be errors because the accu-racy of the information is only as reliable as the person who told the story; others may have experienced the same event in a different way. But we are grateful to those families who have opened those old suitcases in the attic and showed us documents, diaries and photos from the past. We thank you.

We gratefully acknowledge permission to use material from publications such as The Northern Advocate, Scene Magazine, NZ Memories and our local Focus magazine. We also acknowledge the support of graphic artists Cindy Alger and Vicky Graham ( who drew the cartoons to illustrate some of the stories. Artists Zela Charlton (, Steve Moase, and Paul DuFlou generously invited us to use their work; photogra-phers, Wade Doak, Adrian Gilbert, Cole Johnston, Kate Malcolm and Malcolm Pullman provid-ed the stunning photography that illustrates some of these pages.

The True Tales Committee is a group of ten inquisitive, enthusiastic researchers determined to make your stories public and to present a positive image of who we are. We have worked under the guidance of a representative of the True Tales organisation (Don Goodall); other than that, we are all locals: David Young, Erica Wellington, Janet Sturgess, Jennifer Wilson-Stewart, Judi Gilbert, Margo Irvine, Mim Ringer, Mary Johnston and Murray Lints. We include two local historians (Mim Ringer and Jennifer Wilson-Stewart); another with links to local iwi (Erica Wellington), and another (Janet Sturgess) with a background in teaching journalism, editing, and desktop publishing.

All of us work as volunteers. Once we have covered our production costs, all proceeds from the book go back to the community through the local Lions Club. Thus, by buying copies of True Tales of the Tutukaka Coast you will be supporting your own community. In return, the Tutukaka Lions Club has been immensely helpful in facilitating the financing, marketing and sales of this book. They deserve your support.

We could not have produced True Tales of the Tutukaka Coast without the encouragement and financial support of the Whangarei District Council. The Oxford Trust also assisted us with a generous contribution. We are grateful for their help.

Start a Conversation

We hope these stories will encourage others to write and tell their family stories. As a start-ing point, today’s gold card holders will have a ready response to questions asked by their grandchildren and great- grandchildren: “So what was life like in your day, Grandad / Grandma?”

“Come, let’s sit down and read our book together.”

It’s important for us all to leave a legacy of our stories and experiences for generations to come. Enjoy the conversation.

by David Young, editor