A Club Steeped in Tradition

Ngatapa Rugby Club was established in 1957 but prior to that, the Ngatapa sub-union had been going for some years.

These memories from Llewyn Wood were sent to the club as part of the jubilee celebration in 2007. It is worth remembering how rugby used to be, to appreciate where this club has come from and the foundation on which it was built.

"I started playing for Rere Football Club which was one of five clubs that formed the Ngatapa sub-union in 1953. The other clubs were Ngatapa, Waerenga-o-kuri Tahunga, Whanahou. By 1956 there were hardly enough players for two teams so it was decided to form one club to play in the Poverty Bay union.
Some grounds we played on left a lot to be desired. One at Te Reinga had little stubby bushes of blackberry dotted here and there and at one end, two feet beyond the goal line was a big blackberry bush.

Tahunga had a shallow drain running the full length of the field which would have about four to six inches of water in it when it was wet. Rere had the best ground while Ruakituri had a six inch fall from one end to the other.

Showers were either a quick dip in the local creek or swamp which was much needed after playing on a field which stock had just been removed from - or even worse held in the corner by shepherds while the game played.

The Black and White Shield and Barry Cup were played for between us and Wairoa or East Coast sub-unions. The Johnny Graham Memorial Cup was played between Rere and Puha as a memorial to Johnny who drowned while crossing a stream at Tangihau on horseback.

Without Tangihau, Laurie Cooper and Toby Mullooly there would not have been any Rere club as Tangihau supplied 90 percent of the players. The saying went, if you could play rugby then you could get a job at Tangihau.

Any sub-union games were played on the Patutahi Domain which was really heavy and after about half an hour you would think - or wish - that your legs belonged to someone else.

And so Ngatapa was formed

In 1957 the Ngatapa sub-union became the Ngatapa Club and Bill Carrington was the coach. Trainings were held on Sunday mornings at Patutahi which was not that satisfactory but we still managed to hold our own in most club games.

In the 1950s Paddy Wanklyn and Woody Sherratt became dominant figures in the club mostly as club captain. Without Paddy's domineering bloody mindedness and hard work the club would not be what it is today. The strings and red tape he had to get through with the town board, the Domain Board, the justice department were phenomenol.

Once the lease was obtained the work really started with Paddy on his bulldozer clearing poplar trees, ripping out old ashphalt tennis courts and persuading Monk Brothers to pull out the tree stumps.

It was about this time that John Spiers and George Walford designed the club logo.

Early on we managed to get training under lights at the oval on a Wednesday night but this didn't work because the old stand had no changing or shower facilities and for players to have to travel home 40-50 miles cold and wet was no fun.

About 1959 I was asked to go on the committee as a player representative. We would have meetings once a month at different member's homes which meant traveling in all sorts of weather to different parts of Hangaroa, Rere, Ngatapa and town.

The Role of Coach in '64

In 1964 I was voted in as a junior coach for a team which had been established by the great Ngatapa man Trevor Torrie. Coach - what a joke. The coach had to collect the subs, get money for washing jerseys, oranges for half time, deliver and collect jerseys from the laundry, arrange for tetanus injections, deliver fruit to anyone in hospital from an injury, make sure the boiler was lit for the showers, check on who could and could not play next week, and finally, do some coaching.

Some Lighter Moments


2007 The club celebrated its 50th jubilee in great heart and held a major weekend of celebrations culminating in a gala dinner for nearly 400 people from all over New Zealand
2008 The Ngatapa Premier and Senior One rugby teams won their respective competitions - the first time in history for the club
2009 After more than 18 months planning and raising $150,000 the Ngatapa club carpark and netball courts were officially opened on Saturday April 18, 2009.