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Mangawhai Tennis Club History

The following information was sourced from Bev Ross’ book called “Ripples from the River,” but also from people such as Desma Markwick, Barbara Wintle and Ivan Urlich, who have a deep understanding of the tennis club history and have been involved with the community for a long time.  Also thanks to Raewyn Torrie who had some of the old minute books, which were invaluable to understanding the pressures the club faced and ultimately successes the club had due to the hard work of many.  Thanks to those who contributed to the research done by Neisha Voot and those who supported her doing it, like Katsue Toddun and Euan Upston.    

Organised tennis was first played in Mangawhai in 1855, we know this as the centenary was held at the Insley Street tennis courts in 1955, as shown in the photo below. 

Centenary photo 1955 - web.jpg

The earliest surviving records of the Mangawhai tennis club are from the AGM of August 1935. The club became an incorporated society on the 1 Aug, 1949.  However, tennis was played in the Mangawhai area from around the 1850s.


There are lovely old Mangawhai tennis photos which have been preserved and stored by the museum and others, some of which are below. 



Tennis tennis photo 1904 - web.jpg

A group of tennis players at Mangawhai in 1890.

1st Hakaru courts 1908 - Web.jpg

Players on first Hakaru courts 1908: Myra Sarah, Miss Wiggins, Phyllis Sely.


Dairy Factory courts from 1912 - web.jpg

Dirt courts created near the creek by the Diary Factory in 1912.

History of the Area:

The area we now refer to as Mangawhai used to be broken into 4 distinct areas:

  1. Molesworth: Harbour entrance up to the Head’s camping grounds

  2. Molesworth Suburbs: Land south of the Head camping grounds to Moir Point

  3. The beach: Mangawhai village

  4. Mangawai: Hakaru

Map of Mangawhai Parish - Web.jpg

Tennis was played on shared courts both in Hakaru (now the Heads) and what is now called  Mangawhai village.  There was even competition about where the official club would be situated, but the village was chosen as at the time, that was where the majority of the population resided.

History of Tennis at Mangawhai Village

The first tennis court is believed to be on Mr. John Ryan’s property at the end of Moir Street.  There was a court on Byfords land (the next owners were the Sommerville’s) which was behind the hotel.  

The courts originally were on people's private properties but later a club court was set up on corner of Moir Street and Molesworth Drive, on the property of Mrs. Robert Moir.  These courts were played on before and around the dates 1870 – 1900. 

Asphalt courts were put in behind the houses on Moir Street, previously known as Main Road, on land owned by Mr. Wintle.  The tennis courts were accessible down a lane, known in the 1880’s as Bridge Road, that went between the houses owned by Bert Moir and Paddy Wynn.  These courts were used regularly for the next ten years until a meeting on 9 November, 1945, where it was decided the club would fundraise toward the purchase of another section on Insley Street. 

It appears that when the club was on Insley street (2 house places down from the Hall) it originally had 3 courts, a hitting area, toilets and BBQ area.  It was proposed in the minutes that the courts would need resealing in 1976, indicating they were hard courts. The courts were shared with the Netball Club.  The Mangawhai Community Association owned the land the courts were on as this, the land was used as collateral for a loan for improvements. 

On the Insley Street courts tennis was only played until March or even May if weather was good and then the nets bought in so netball club could use courts for netball.  Barry Markwick was the President for much of this time and he was instrumental in running the tennis club and organising inter-club both over Insley Street time and Domain court time.  His wife Desma was also very involved in the club, she did lots of fundraising and interclub as well as acted as the Treasurer for many years. 

Photo of Alice Jackson and friend on courts down the 'lane with no name' - web.jpg

The Insley Road courts were used for almost 30 years before 4 new courts were developed at the Domain, which were officially opened on 19 September, 1985.  In the President’s Report from the 1984 AGM, he outlines the plans for new courts, 4 new courts at the Domain, a motion was passed at AGM to work towards construction of 4 new courts at the Domain.  

Committee meeting on 21 August, 1984 shows quotes for the 4 courts from $4,922 - $5,627, plus $34,800 to lay concrete.

A combined meeting with the Netball Club in September 1984 shows the tennis club intended to still use old courts for overflow, school coaching and for public to play in holiday season. 

From minutes of meeting on 7 March, 1985, first four pegs were placed and levels taken for courts at the Domain.  Minutes from 18 April, 1985 show limestone was used (1 foot depth) and packed as the foundation. 

In Kath Michie’s President’s report for AGM September 1985 shows funding for the new courts was $16,300 grant money from Otamatea City Council and a loan of $26,950 at 10% interest.   From December 1985 minutes the concrete for the courts cost $21,836.08, lines to be painted on courts Tuesday 17 December 10am. 

The new Domain courts were open from 19 September, 1985 (according to the booklet Sports stories from Mangawhai and Districts), however the official open day was 9 February, 1986. At this point the courts had no lights, were concrete and there were gates but no locks. 

The Domain courts’ opening day was a very exciting and well publicised event, with David Mustard and David Lewis giving coaching to the juniors.  There was exhibition tennis as well the officials from the Otamatea County Council and Mrs. Annie Carter opened the courts.

In 1988, shoes tags were used to mark financial members, but there were no locked gates so there was an honesty box (tube) that casual players could put money into if they played and who were not members.  Unfortunately, this tub often got broken and the cash taken.

On the 30 August, 1995, the old courts at Insley Street were sold. 

On 31 July, 2001, astroturfing of the 2 back Domain courts (3 &4) was completed at a cost of $33,324.  Courts 1 and 2  were astroturfed in 2004 at a cost of $35,845 and the lights were put in then at a cost of around $23,000.

In 2020, two new courts (5 & 6) were added to the existing 4 at the Domain, so the club now had 6 all weather, floodlight courts with locked gates for enthusiastic social tennis.

In 2021, two of the old courts (1 & 2) were re-carpeted.  In 2023, the remaining two old courts (3 & 4) were re-carpeted at a cost of $65,438.01.

History of Tennis at Hakaru (the Heads)

The Hakaru courts were not part of the Mangawhai Tennis Club Inc. but was part of the history of Mangawhai tennis playing in general.   The first were grassed courts next to the first Hakaru Hall and were first spaded out before 1900.  In 1909, another set of courts were built near the current RSA location.  In 2012, another set of dirt courts were formed near the dairy factory, with a third added a few years later.  These were later asphalted and a pavilion added. 

In 1939, the next courts were built a little further up Settlement Road, on Cameron property, on the other side of the new Hakaru Hall which was built in 1928. These three courts built on Hakaru Domain were popular and a tennis pavilion added in 1949.   One method of communicating that a “game was on” was by Colin and Alice Cameron hanging a sheet on the fence, so folk at distant places “got the message,” to go over with their rackets ready for a challenge. 

These courts have since been converted into a dressage area by the Hakaru Pony Club. 

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