Written by Norma White, September 2002

A meeting was held in the Lyceum Club rooms on 23 August 1961 with a view to forming a Contract Bridge Club.  Present were Messrs H Bernards, Co Baart, A McAlister, W Christie, L Needham,  G Brown, L Volmuller, Dr R S Joobin, Miss H R Tosswill and Mesdames H O Tosswill, L Brown, E McKenzie, D Scragg, E Needham, H Brown (Joan McLeod’s mother) and D Morpeth.  

Gus Landman and Andrew Hamblett, President and Secretary of the Kawerau Club spoke about the formation of their club and how it had grown from 7 to 70 members and ultimately to 100.  In 1951 Roly (Roly White, the husband of the writer), as associate member of the Eastern Bay of Plenty Land Settlement Committee, had been at a field meeting at Kawerau with members of the Lands Department, the State Advances Corporation, the Rehabilitation Board and others to decide the boundaries and locations of the mill, the town and the business area and it was amazing to see the rapid growth of the whole area.  The land area was large and planted in lucerne.

It was proposed by Mrs Hilda Brown that a Contract Bridge Club be formed, seconded by L Vollmuller and carried.  Dr Jobin, Technical Director of Tasman, was elected President, and Mr Volmuller, Northern Steamship Company agent, was elected Secretary/Treasurer.  The committee comprised Mrs D Scragg, Mrs E Needham, Mrs H Brown and Mr W Christie.

The first playing night was held on Wednesday 30 August 1961 when there were 63 present.  It had been decided to hire the Lyceum Club at a charge of 10/- an hour, plus 2/6 heater fee and cups 5/-.  The entrance fee was set at 10/- with the table fee 2/6 !  The Club rooms were crowded, stuffy and badly lit so having tried hard to make things more comfortable, we bought tables and heaters and an extractor fan to get rid of the smog.  Zelda Morris bought material for table covers and Marie Haultain made them.  Today they are the undergarments for our present cloths !

Our first A G M was held in the Lyceum Club on 12 February 1962 when Dr Jobin was again elected President and Bill Christie Secretary/Treasurer.  Mary Good was appointed club captain and very efficient she was too!  Charles Good was appointed our honorary auditor, a position he held for many years.  Male members of the committee directed in rotation.  Because of shortage of space at Lyceum, membership was closed.  Dr Jobin was conducting tuition classes at his home and the Bridge Club was progressing remarkably well.

John and Eileen Ward arrived in Opotiki from England in 1951 and in 1956 John and Miss Penelope Cranswick, a teacher at the College in Opotiki, called a meeting to establish a contract bridge club.  Roly and I lived in Waimana and Barbara Chrystall, a member of the well-known Chambers family, and I drove often to play bridge in Opotiki.  My association with Opotiki was of long-standing as my grandfather had been appointed headmaster of the Opotiki School in 1901, so I think as beginners Barbara and I were allowed a great deal of licence!  Each night a different rule was read by John, discussed and understood.

Opotiki was a well established town of mostly Scottish people, much bigger than Whakatane which was called “the swamp”.  I remember the tidal creek where the Post Office now stands and Muriwai Park was a mud flat.  How our town has changed!  So it eventuated that our club established visiting nights with Opotiki.  Like our club they shifted from place to place, the High School staff room, Devonshire House, the Bowling Club and finally the Golf Club.  My father was a very keen card player and when we were kids we were encouraged to play any card game and so we progressed from euchre and cribbage to bridge.  We always seemed to have a four and one night I was dealt 13 spades!  Of course I was so excited I showed my hand, forgetting to call 7 spades.  

Some good partnerships were forming at the Club.  Dr Tait was a marvellous player seemingly able to play with anybody and he and Zelda Morris were tops.  Bob played well with Brian Alexander and Clive Merritt.  Bill Christie and Ross Gordon were good and now they are playing on their computers – seems such a waste.  I had played auction bridge at Lyceum and I well remember how devastating Sadie McLeod (Jan Jarrett’s mother) and Marge Littlejohn were and usually beat Joan Macdonald and Joyce Barclay in the champion pairs.  I played mostly with Joan McLeod and she had some cute sayings, like “That’s a rotten hand or a rotten lead” and “Blimey!”  May Blake and Janet Fenwicke were pretty good!

The constitution of the Club had been mentioned by Charles Good at the inaugural meeting and at the AGM in 1963 it was still being discussed and the Club decided to apply for registration.

Dr Jobin had decided that pressure of work no longer allowed him to be President and Mr Barclay was duly elected.  Nigel was headmaster of Whakatane High School, an MA and a charming man.  Bill Christie was the Secretary/Treasurer and it was decided to pay him 15 guineas yearly.  At a special meeting held on 27 March 1963 it was announced that Mr Barclay had resigned and Clive Merritt was elected to replace him.  Nigel had been chosen for University teaching in Indonesia and he and Joyce had gone to Dunedin for Nigel to finish his law degree.

Interesting to note that the resignations of Mary Francis (mother of Peter of Force fame) and Alice Dawson (mother of John Ward) were received.  Clive Merritt was shifted by his Bank and Dr Tait became President.

Our first tournament was held in the Memorial Hall on 2 March 1963.  Billy Tohill of Auckland was the director and it was a happy affair.  Billy was a lovely person and was a popular director all over New Zealand.  It was the first time I had seen Colonel and Mrs Timbs from Tauranga.  She was a marvellous player as they had been tea or rubber planters in Malaya and had plenty of time to play.  She would cut for position at the beginning of play and then stand up to see where the other gun players were sitting and sit appropriately!  She would entertain us from time to time with card tricks.  She wore marvellous diamonds.  The Colonel had a little foxy dog which went everywhere with him and at lunch time the old gents would go for a quiet wander.  The catering for the tournament cost £88/8/-!  The entry fee was £1.

It was decided to conduct an evening of match pointing and bridge proprieties in May 1963.  In 1964 was also decided to hold only three major Club competitions, Champion Pairs, Champion Singles and Teams of Four.

Mrs Zelda Morris and her husband Joe were the proprietors of the Commercial Hotel.  In its day it was very elegant and we often had lunch there on our visits to town.  The dining room was well dressed and polished.  Zelda became a strength in the Club.  I remember one day I was playing at Angela Inness’s at Otarawairere and I didn’t know the score and Janet said “ask Zelda” and I said “I don’t know her”.  Imagine my embarrassment when I found how competent she was and how very experienced!  She did a lot of scoring and delivered the results to the Beacon.  

The Lyceum Club became too small and in 1965 we shifted to the Men’s Bowling Club in Merritt Street.  It was large, cold and noisy and the outside staircase was dangerous in the dark and wet.  But we were able to open our membership again as it had been closed when the Lyceum Club became too small.

In 1964 it was decided to play inter club nights with Kawerau and Opotiki and many happy nights were enjoyed.   Mrs Morris was selected to play with the New Zealand Ladies team in Japan.  Co Baart was a very keen member and played formidable bridge with his fellow countryman Herman van der Werff.  Co was the proprietor of the Willow Bank Nursery and it was his pleasure to donate a box or two of tomatoes for prizes.  He was a great big happy man and we missed him when he moved to Ohope and chose to interest himself in other pursuits and succeeded in doing a tremendous lot of good in the district.  

At the AGM in 1965 Herman suggested that the Singles Championship be a drawn partnership event.  Dr Tait said that that would be a sweeping change, but the proposal was carried.  Notices were sent to all near clubs to attend our tournament which was to be held in the Memorial Hall and to be played in two sessions of fifteen.  Mrs Tohill to direct.  The tournament date was Saturday 27 February.  It was decided that the Champion Singles be played six out of nine nights – drawn partners.  Champion Pairs six out of nine nights, all scores to count.  Teams of Four, six nights, five scores to count – two replacements.

Mr and Mrs Bristow who had been very strong members of the Club shifted to Tokoroa and were a great loss.  They were eventually shifted to Tauranga and after Peter became ill, Elizabeth played with great success with her sons and her daughters in law.

There was an ongoing battle with the heating of the Bowling Club so we entered into negotiations with the members to arrange some form of floor covering.  Years later with the advent of pokies, carpet was laid and the upstairs lounge became very comfortable.  But we had gone by then !

Charles Armstrong, who owned Armstrongs’ Book Shop and was a member of a large family of businessmen in the town, was elected our next President.  It was at this time that discussions took place about our acquiring premises of our own and it was suggested that building society shares be purchased.

The next tournament was held in the Wedgewood Lounge, now the Youth Centre, with Dr Thulin of Rotorua directing.  The cost of catering was 16/6 per head.

In 1967 Mr and Mrs Robertson left to live in Tauranga and Wilf Burrows became secretary.  The Bay of Plenty series tournaments had been established and played between Tauranga, Rotorua, Te Puke, Kawerau, Opotiki and Whakatane.  Our members went to tournaments all around the area, the Gisborne one being very popular.  Dress was very formal in those days and everybody looked lovely.  The ladies at night wore long frocks and fur stoles and the men wore dinner dickies and looked very smart.  Mr Cowper of Rotorua never wore socks and to see him smartly dressed in his dinner jacket and no socks was quite an ironic touch at a classy tournament.  Pre-dinner drinks in our rooms were very much in vogue and helped to make the night’s play more convivial.  Brents Tournament was a two day affair – three sessions and I always said I felt like a slug that had crawled out from under a rock!

Peg Kirk was our Club Captain and she was very conscientious and a stickler for the rules.  Her husband Alex was a Scottish rep soccer player.  Kawerau members became associate members of our club.  In 1967 at the 6th AGM, Mr Christie was elected our first vice President.  We had taken out Northern Building Society shares at a cost of £26 per year.  Mr Burrows said that as we had £800 it should be invested in a gilt edged security.  The charge for 42 nights at £4/5/- = £180 for Bowling Club rental was paid.  Mr Christie was our new President and Peter Thorpe our Club Captain.  Ian Turner was elected Secretary/Treasurer.  

In 1968 a successful tournament was held in the High School assembly hall.  Peter Vodanovich was the director.  Also in 1968 Zelda Morris was selected for the New Zealand Ladies team to play in Australia.  In 1968 Master points were introduced and Peg Kirk was appointed Master points secretary.

During 1967 Bev Searle had proposed that a sub-committee be formed to look into the possibility of purchasing a section or premises.  Oz Edwards, Bruce Godfrey and Bill Christie were members of a committee appointed. 

In 1972 Bev was elected President,  Janet Fenwicke - Vice, Dorothie Hawken - Secretary, and Ian Turner - Treasurer.  Nola Turner was the Club Captain.  We moved to the Senior Citizens’ hall in 1972.  Ian resigned and Nola filled in until year’s end.  Tournaments were held at Trident and the Wedgewood Lounge.  This entailed a lot of organising and shifting tables etc.  I don’t know what we would have done without Jon de Raad’s trailer!

It was at this time that Roly and I started to do Wednesday’s scoring on the great big sheets.  Roly was a whiz with figures but not I!  I might have been a better bridge player had I had figure ability.  We lived in Waimana and there was usually a thick fog as the road wound along the river.   There was not a white line then and no such thing as a reflector!  I played bridge with the “Thursday Girls” and brought the results in to Bev on those bridge days but at other times I caught the mail.  Once I got up at 5 o’clock and got the results out first pop.  Very pleased!

At the 13th AGM in 1974 Ned Richmond was elected President, Dorothie Hawken - Secretary, Audrey Anderson - Treasurer.  All through the records there is no list of members but in 1973 at the AGM a list appears:  M Watters, W Paull, J McLeod, G Ranby, C M McKenzie, U Smith, V Urquhart, M Allan, R and J Tait, P Perry, R and G Mollgaard, J Fenwicke, J and S de Raad, B Hulse, M Strange, J Rogers, W and B Shaw, M and P Boyce, N Turner, F Steel, J Bull, J Hatcher, E Needham, J Otley, M Blake, R Gordon, J and B Alexander, L Henderson, Dr M Flacks, J and C Johnson, A Duthie, M Hyland, R and N White, V and O Edwards, B Armstrong, G Gow, A and B Thomson, D Callinan, W Christie, C Savage, J Boyce, F Hughes, I and B Searle, J and D Hawken, W and C Groom, R Rockets, J Sisam, J Laurie, B Searle, M Dempsey, J and E Ward, M Jones, M I Jones, E Cammell, E and E Spence, M Morpeth, N Richmond, W and R Waayman, M Clode, M Haultain, M Radford, J Duncan, N Edmunds, P and B Dakin, P Drayson.

Our Club became a member of the Waikato Bays Association with Dorothie as our representative.  Tournaments throughout the Bay progressed and inter-club nights competitions especially teams of our.  Visitors nights were introduced between Kawerau and Opotiki.  

At the 14th AGM Ned Richmond was elected President, M Morpeth Secretary, M I Jones, Treasurer and Roly White Club Captain.  Card fees were 50c and subs $6.  Mr Richmond said there had been very little progress in acquiring our own premises.  Membership in 1974 was 133 and we were playing 18 tables a night.  Roly and I now lived in Seaview Road and still did the scoring, which Rol would deliver on his way to golf.  A tournament was held at Trident and made a profit of $175!

There was a suggestion at this time that we lease the Rowing Club hall.  Discussions were held and their committee wanted us to build a mezzanine floor incorporating toilets and carpeting.

At 10 June 1975 we had a current account of $1221.20, No. 2 account of $423.60, an investment account of $3,644.80 totalling $5289.60.

The 15th AGM was held at the Fishing Club, which proved that we went all over town!  The date was 26 November 1975.  Mr O Edwards was elected President, Secretary – Maureen Morpeth, Treasurer - Margaret Jones and Club Captain – Ned Richmond.  We now had $6,440.10 to our credit.  We were holding garage sales and for many years ran a raffle.  Club rooms were again discussed and it was proposed that the Council be approached to allow us to build on Warren Park.  Mr Richmond was appointed publicity officer and he also conducted beginners classes.  This was the first time that “C” points were allotted.  On 14 June 1976 Monday night bridge was started at the Soccer Club.

At the 1976 AGM Malcolm Hyland was elected President, R White – Vice and Secretary – Bonnie Nunweek.  Margaret Jones was Treasurer and Ned Richmond – Club Captain.  There were 125 members.  Membership was dropping!  Out highest membership was 155.  So it was decided that Ned should conduct beginners classes again.  The cost was $15 for 12 lessons which entitled learners to the entrance fee and subscription to the Club.  Malcolm was transferred by his bank and Roly became acting President.  But an extraordinary meeting was called to elect a new President and Roly was elected with Janet Fenwicke as Vice.  Once again Ned and Roly were appointed to find Club premises.  Talks were held with Mr Alf Brookes, Peg Kirk’s brother-in-law with a view to joining with the Soccer Club members.  After much deliberation they decided not to continue, so they decided to make an “all out effort” to find a home.  Forde Mitchell and Bob Byrne were appointed to liaise with our chaps and they were invited to inspect a section at Warren Park.  There were a few houses that the Council wanted removed.  Ned got a quote from Lockwood for $40,000 and a quote from John Needham for $42,000.  Then the Council offered us a section at Awatapu but it was found that an extra section would be needed for parking.  The members objected to going to Awatapu so that was out!  Roly and I had looked at the Buddle home in Domain Road.   The parking was a restriction and as it was an old wooden house it was a fire hazard.  Alison Cave’s house near Trident was considered and the Philatelic hall was investigated as was the Scout hall in McAlister Street.  Mr Henderson, Pam Drayson’s father had offered us a section to the west of his quarry and we looked at the Radio shack in Waiewe Street but the parking was insufficient.  Mr Byrne said that he had heard that the General Foods warehouse in Commerce Street was for sale, so after all our endeavour Roly went to Tauranga to see Mr Shirley the area manager of what was then called Watties.  The price was $50,000!  We went back to the Council’s suggestion of building on Warren Park, but we got a letter from Mr Willis of the District Council to say that the management plan for building on a reserve was years away, so that was that again!  

New members in 1977 were M Radford, Michie, McDonald, J Jones, Gray, Dakin, Butler, Belcher, Duncan, Yates, Tebbutt, Tarau, Milroy, Howarth.  Messrs Jones, Gray, Dakin, Butler, Penberth and Campbell.

At the AGM, the 17th, held on 30 November 1977 quotes were received for lunch for the tournament from Rainbow Bakery Edgecumbe, Trident PTA and the Silver Dollar.  The Silver Dollar quote was accepted at $4 a head.  The entry fee was $7.50 with $100 for prizes.  Scorers were Brunt, Christie, Hughes and White.

Garth Morgan, an accountant, had been our auditor for many years and as he was not well it was decided to give him a bottle of whisky to cheer him up a little.  Jon de Raad proposed that the “A” tournament be changed to a one day affair but that proposal was lost.

At the AGM on 8 March 1979 a social committee was formed with Janet Fenwicke as President so we were assured of good entertainment for our opening night.  It was sad to know that our stalwart, Peg Kirk had died.  We also lost Bunty Shaw-Ledgard and Don Philip.  The sub was increased to $15 and our membership had fallen to 129.

We now had $9,404 – we were truly rich!

Mr Shirley, the manager of General Foods had gone to Auckland.  It was our opinion that he considered the warehouse site in Commerce Street an ideal place for a motel to occupy his retirement time.  The price was now $42,000.  When we lived in Waimana I had grown all our own vegetables, made all the children’s and my own clothes and preserved 300 bottles of fruit and vegetables and when Roger was four the Government paid all mothers a family benefit and I had saved all mine.  So I wrote to Mr Gordon Wattie in Hastings and said it would be good public relations to sell us the building.  I said I was a substantial shareholder and the Bridge Club really did need a home.  Lo and behold he wrote back offering us the building at $32,000.  So Roly called a special meeting on 12 March 1980 to announce that General Foods had accepted our offer of $32,000 and an agreement for sale and purchase was to be executed provided we got a loan of $25,000 from Bay of Plenty Savings Bank.  Mr Pawson, manager of the bank had always been most helpful.  It was decided to issue debentures of $100 or $200 at 10% which paid the annual subscription.  The forms to be attached to the newsletter and ballots were to be held for repayments.  $2,000 was received from Sport and Recreation Fund.  Substantial donations were received from Forest Products as Bill Christie was an engineer at the Board Mills.  Money was still raised by raffles and garage sales.  Mr Jock Kerr was employed for 30 hours a week.

At the 20th AGM, Sadie McLeod was elected our first Patroness.  This was fitting as her husband Stan had built the solid concrete building as a bus depot for his fleet about 1946 or 47 according to Jan Jarrett, their daughter.  Sadie was a lovely little lady, very much respected by us all.  Roly and Ned and Stan had many discussions about drainage and things pertaining to the building.  Stan would draw sketches.  The northern side of the building to half way across the floor was lined with cork tiles, which was the freezing chamber.  These tiles were noise absorbent and also warm.  The paraplegic toilet was an office and the original toilet.  There were heavy sliding doors on the back wall which were made into serving tables until Roly and I gave the Club some new ones and the heavy ones were sold.  The middle wall was made on the floor and required a mighty effort from everybody to erect it and hope like hell it would fit!  But it did!  Mr Potter, an old member, was formerly a locksmith and he swung all the doors.  One day the girls were called on to carry out the tiles and shelving from the freezer.  All of Watties goods were on wooden shelves supported by iron standards.  It was a very hot day and the tar oozed out of the tiles and blackened us all – hard to get off too!  Ned was the architect and Roly the organiser.  The girls were marvellous about supplying food for their smokos.  Wanaka Maxwell made the draft sausages and gave me some surplus net curtains which I made for the kitchen shelving.  She also gave us the elegant mirror in the foyer.  Verner Jessop gave us a lace bedspread which I cut in half and trimmed with like lace for table cloths.  Roly had been on the board of the Opotiki Dairy Company and knew all the staff at Rangitaiki Dairy and they gave us the fluorescent lights and the black heaters.  We still have the heaters but we ran out of ballasts for the lights and they were replaced recently.  Maisie Boyce and I scrubbed the lights and the heaters in our garage.  It was a filthy job as the dust from the milk powder was caked on them.  The Opotiki Dairy sold us the men’s urinal for a small sum.  When May Blake died, her family donated the cupboard which houses the trophies.  The shelving and steel were made into a fence which divided our front parking lot - but Cyclone Bola put an end to it!  Bev Searle and others were responsible for choosing the papers and carpet etc.  They were rather restricted because a lady in Berg Place didn’t like her choice of curtains when they were hung so we got them very cheaply.  I put false hems on them and switched them around when they faded.  Roly said that he would always remember the work Ned had done, but also Charles Good, Fred Day, Jack Duncan, George Maxwell and Alf Hegh.

SO!  The Club was opened on 1 October 1981 (the night our daughter-in-law left home).

We had a huge party for the opening of the Club rooms.  It had been a tremendous amount of work and Ned and Roly were exhausted.  The lady members had worked wonderfully well, painting and papering and putting the final touches to the whole project.  Beryl Thomson painted the sign board and of course we had to have new table cloths and Jeanette Rogers and Glad Mollgaard hemmed those.  We invited the members of Kawerau and Opotiki and two members of all the other Bay clubs.  We kicked up our heels till about 9 and then a crowd of us went to the then fashionable Buccaneer for dinner.

We had an old member called Bill Saunders who had been a Coldstream Guardsman.  He worked with his son at a garden which is now called Stuckey’s and he was very generous with the garden’s produce.  He got us a set of boards from his sister in England and persuaded her to donate them!  Bill shifted to Whangarei and we missed his huge stature.

In 1981 Friday bridge started with Maisie Boyce as Convenor.  Clive and Maisie had been the initial Mayor and Mayoress of Kawerau.  Maisie and her daughter Pam had developed a good partnership and travelled far and wide to tournaments.  Pam from time to time conducted directing classes and some of the members least expected became very good directors!

At the 21st AGM in 1982 Ned and Roly were given life membership in gratitude for all of their work.  Three honours boards were presented.  Maisie was elected President.  It was then decided to pay the Secretary $90 and the Treasurer $60.  In 1982 the membership climbed to 158.

Our beloved member Floss Steel was elected Patroness in 1983.  We had two good players and helpful too, Mr and Mrs Aagaard.  He was the head of the T.A.B. and they left town suddenly!  Kevin Arnott and Kiri Tarau formed a good partnership but Kevin missed his children who had gone to Australia, so he left too.

Jan Jarrett was Secretary from 1983 to 1985 and Maureen Morpeth became president in 1985.

Marion Kelly joined the club and she took no time to buy a computer for $2,000 and quickly had it programmed to do the scoring.  So Roly’s and my many years of match-pointing and scoring were ended.

And so the Club progressed quietly and successfully, a happy Club.  In all our formative years there had only been a couple of spats.

In 1986 Noeline Butler became President and Bev Dakin, Secretary.  Margaret Jones started beginners classes and our membership climbed to 158.  Margaret’s class produced 17 new members.  The garden at the back was developed under Nola’s direction but we had plants and half rounds pinched and had to nail everything down!  Maisie was awarded life membership.

Cecilie Groom became President in 1988.  Roly had a severe stroke about this time so he resigned from the committee and was thanked for all his years of work.  Ned was also not well and came to bridge attached to an oxygen cylinder.  Joy and Albert Fear had been a force in the Club for some time organising the kitchen and Joy directing.  When I worked with codes and ciphers in Navy Office, Wellington I always had to check signals about Albert because his rank was Able Seaman (AB) and his initials AB, so the signal would read AB AB Fear.  Then Les Lilly came as head of Police and he was like a breath of fresh air in the Club.  He had been the headmaster of Reporoa School and knew how to get the best out of members.  He became Club Captain.  The hoary old chestnut of a dish washer was always with us and it was not until 2001 that it was installed.  It took 10 years.

On 29 March 1989 a meeting was called to consider fire alarms but at $900 a year they were considered too expensive.  The Clerk of the Court lived across the road and many times late at night he would ring Roly to say lights had been left on.  Wyn Meads was Secretary in 1988.  Bill Saunders left, 11 new members from learners class joined.  The keys were called in as there were 14 on issue!

Peter Blake, Graham Bell and Ray Murphy were thanked for all the electrical work they had done voluntarily over the years.  And Barry Jones was thanked for his photographic work over time.

A large notice board was purchased and fans were installed.  Also in 1989 Ned made a director’s desk and presented it to the Club.

Floss Steel resigned from being Patroness and Roly was appointed in her place.  Charles Good regretted that he was no longer able to be our accountant and Max Bradford was elected in his place.  Albert Fear, who had been treasurer for some time now, suggested that debentures be paid out.  Roly thanked everybody for their help and said that the whole job would have been impossible without their contribution.  Mr Fear worked hard for a solution to the car parking problem.  14 new members joined in 1990.  Brian Alexander, one of our senior members, died.

29 May 1990 the committee decided to replace the fluorescent lights.  We started to talk about the rickety tables, an ongoing saga!  We finally got new solid ones in 2001.

Nola Turner became President in 1990, Wyn Meads – Secretary, Albert Fear – Treasurer.  This year found us worth $63,157.87.  Membership 130 with 12 associate members.  The girls became concerned at the lack of circulation in the toilet and Albert got a quote of $416 for two  expellair fans.  Les Potter, who had done so much for the club, died.  On 25 June 1991 a tea lady was engaged for 1½ hours at $15.

In 1991 Albert and Joy Fear painted the front wall and Mac Dippie painted the inside back wall.  Then came October 1991, our 30th anniversary.  We had a week long celebration with Les Lilly as our MC.  It was decided to invite two members each from Rotorua, Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and Te Puke for Saturday night, and Kawerau, Opotiki and Galatea members for Thursday and Saturday nights.  We had a Mad Hatter’s night which was great fun, a casino night run by Les Lilly and finally on Saturday, a very gay dinner.  Very successful!  In October 1991 the Club approved the purchase of a computer from Computer Direct, Kawerau at $2,243.25 and software from Tokoroa.  So ended all our years of the boys doing the scoring after the tournaments.  I remember one night at Willy and Bunty Shaw’s at Kawerau and as the night wore on and the levels went lower, Meryl Smith, who played with Jean Phillips from Rotorua, did the dance of the seven veils.  She contracted MS and died later.  Jean still plays.  And another night at Bev Searle’s when Colin was President and we had an old manual adding machine which kept on making a mistake and we had miles of ticker tape all over the room and still no result until Bob, Brian and Roly decided to put the machine in the back room to use and they had the results out in no time.  Joan Bull and Audrey Anderson offered to teach others to use the computer, but they and Pam Drayson seem to do all the scoring now that Fred Hughes is not well and Marion Kelly has gone.

Our President, Nola, told us that the standard of directing was very poor, so Pam Boyce conducted classes and we also got Alan Turner over from Tauranga to conduct classes and invited the near clubs to join us.

During this time the committee was dealing with the car park.  The north section had been sold to the Hills who (occupied the house to the NE of the Club and) had established a mini golf course at the north of the club rooms.  The Council decided that the soil was contaminated by the tanalith Boon & Sullivan had used in treating timber at their mill behind their premises.  This had never been mentioned when the several houses to the north of the golf course had been built.  The Hills moved their golf course to a section next to Mahy’s reserve at Ohope.

We lost three senior members this year, Ethel Spence, Joan McLeod and Hilda Perrin.  Hilda’s husband Bert had made all the cupboards.  Nola declined nomination for the new committee and as Roly had resigned from being Patron, Nola was elected in his place.  Lorna Scholtens wrote such a nice letter to Ned thanking him for all the work had had done over the years.  In 1994 new board were purchased from Frank Pratt at a cost of $800 less 10% over two years.   We received a quote from Tracks of $19,760 for sealing the car park with $1552 for the entrance.  There are still deep puddles at the front door during heavy rain.  We got a Lotto grant of $15,000 for sealing.  In 1995 John Otten loaned us the speakers which sometimes still frighten everybody.

In 1994 new curtains were purchased and Nola donated a stand which Eileen Ward made beautiful with artificial flowers.  This was put on the stage to replace the cork tiles and the jardineer Joan McLeod had given us and for which Audrey and I had bought flowers.  In 1994 Albert Fear was thanked for his 7 years as Treasurer and he, Wyn and Bob Batt were thanked for all their negotiating required for straightening out the car park.

In 1993 Maisie Boyce and Beryl Thomson died.  These players were a great loss to the Club.

In 1994 Ned Richmond died.  He and his wife Phyll had a joint funeral.  Phyll was a very talented theatrical producer.  Alan Turner came from Tauranga to conduct a course for directors – Rotorua and Tauranga too.  Margaret Jones was awarded the Bridge Teacher exam.  Margaret has taught so many people, she is to be congratulated.

Marion Kelly was President in 1995 and 1996 and Russ Bullen was Secretary.

In 1996 an important change was made to the membership.  Stephen Searle moved that “The associate membership fee be $15 and will accord players equal rights to prizes and trophies”.  After much discussion an amendment was voted on and carried “That the associate membership fee subscription shall be equal to the ordinary membership subscription minus the national affiliation fee and the associate members shall enjoy the same benefits as ordinary members”.  Formerly associate members received no benefits if they should win.

On 26 May 1996 a special general meeting was held and the AGM date was changed to September each year, with the financial year to commence on 1 July.  Subs due 1 January and to be paid before 28 February.  The extra window was installed in the north wall.

It was decided to keep table fees at $2 and that the Secretary and Treasurer each receive $100 and the Tournament Secretary receive $50.

Margaret Jones was elected President in 1998, with Russ Bullen as Secretary, Jane Searle – Treasurer and Truus Otten – Club Captain.

This was the time for the axe to fall on our roof and back wall.  We had known for years that this would have to be and it was remarkable that it took so long.  The procedure of shipping out the material was interesting.  It was carefully removed and swathed in black plastic and taken to a dump for noxious materials in the Waikato.  I wonder what happened to my plastic buckets which had been used for years for catching the drips.  Roly and his cohorts spent quite a lot of time under the roof!  The garden area was tiled and a deck built along the back wall.  (Reminded me of the boardwalks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.)

In 1999 Johann Bankers became President.  The ongoing problem of the back fence surfaced once more.  The Hills were obliged to erect a fence at the rear of our section, but seemed a bit reluctant so the committee decided to contact our honorary solicitor, Mr Bentley.  Brian Harvey from Opotiki had been our solicitor for years but he and Eileen had left for Papakura long ago.  Mr Radford had been our accountant for ages but now Peter Reid was appointed and he was happy to continue.

This was like history repeating itself when Clive Merritt disappeared, though I do think Johann is still in Whakatane.  Nominations were called for President and Christine Cambie was elected.  Russ Bullen had retired from being Secretary and Sue Legat, the daughter of our dear Audrey Duthie was elected.

In 2001 the internal back wall was lined with pinex and it and the south wall were painted.  We took delivery of 22 solid new tables and most of the old ones were sold.  The dishwasher has been installed.  Russ has some scheme for correcting the drainage at the front door.

Mention must be made of the great service the members rendered in the kitchen and the organising of tournaments.  Earlier the seniors did the kitchen duty while the juniors played in the lower graded tournaments, but now it seems that all members have the opportunity to play in every tournament.  Some members have worked harder than others but we will all remember the thousands of cups and dishes we have washed and dried over the years.  Wanaka Maxwell and Joan Duncan organised the kitchen for years.  Elizabeth Joplin and Joy Fear later.  Pat Bell has always organised the sandwiches and made the fillings besides making four dozen cream puffs!  The food provided for the tournaments and social activities has always been of a high standard and we hope that that trend will continue.

And so the Club plods on with very few of the original members still playing and a dearth of younger players, but Margaret had 12 new players at bridge recently.  Our clubrooms are a tidy and valuable asset, forty years on!