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History Timeline

The timeline below includes key events from the book written, compiled and edited by Terry Christie with assistance from

Amanda Millar (2001 to 2010) and Betty Smith (Scorching Bay).


A copy of the book can be downloaded here.

1900 - 1910

1900 - 1910

  • Worser Bay was slow to develop and was isolated from the rest of the area by Mount Victoria and a large area of the swamp known as Miramar flats.

  • In 1906, the Mount Victoria tram tunnel was completed and trams began running to Kilbirnie.

  • In the same year, the Seatoun tunnel was also completed and the Miramar Borough Council extended its transport services to Seatoun.

  • The popularity of the eastern suburbs took off.  Trams lines to both Lyall Bay and Seatoun were completed and crowds of city folk began visiting the area. 

1910 - 1920

  • On Tuesday, December 13, 1910 Worser Bay took its place in history as the 3rd lifesaving club to have been established in New Zealand.

  • The club’s first-ever races included two races over 50 yards, one event for adults and the other for juniors.

  • The first-ever aquatics sports day was held on 22nd January 1911, during which a demonstration of practical life saving under the Schaefer system was given.

  • On January 7 1912, a foundation tablet was laid for the ‘Green Shed’. On March 6, the committee held its first meeting in the club’s first shed.

  • In February 1912 the club purchased a punt intended to be used as lifesaving equipment (the club’s first surf boat).

  • In 1914 the Post and Telegraph Department decided to build a wharf for their cable laying vessels on the very spot where the club’s just completed rooms were located. After much negotiation, the club made arrangements with the Borough Council to hire the old Pilot shed.

  • The lifesaving reel that Miramar Borough Council agreed to meet half the cost of arrived in 1915.

  • The 1916 and 1917 Annual Report was dominated by the war. It featured a list of more than 50 Club members who had enlisted and those that had been killed in action.

  • 1917 also saw the Club decide to improve the facilities at the beach for the running of club races by building a concrete starting platform.

  • The construction of a new shed was celebrated with an inter-club carnival held on Saturday February 15 1918. This shed continued to be used until 1961.

  • Junior club member Frank Norton Taylor rescued a local resident from drowning in 1918, a first for the club.

1910 - 1920

1920 - 1930

  • In 1920 the Club sported a new look with teams competing for the first time in togs that consisted of dark blue V’s and light blue caps. They have remained as the club colours ever since.

  • Competitively 1922 saw the clubs first victory in the inter-club Wahler Cup.

  • In 1923 the diving platform was improved and a springboard was added. A new reel was required and the necessary funds were raised.

  • The club had enough money in the bank in 1924 to re-roof the club shed with new iron at a cost of £24.

  • In 1925 junior club member Mr D. Bell saved the life of a young boy.

  • In 1926 the club won the Island Bay Novice Cup for the first time. Also, for the first time, the club won a seven-man run out event.

  • In 1929 the club was successful in winning the Junior Cup the first time it was competed for.

1920 - 1930
1930 - 1940

1930 - 1940

  • The highlight of 1930 was a win in the Annette Kellerman Cup at the New Zealand Swimming Championship (a long-distance course).

  • A new competition was introduced at the Club with the Polo Cup allocated to an Alarm Rescue Competition.

  • Bill Gerrie was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the Royal Life Saving Society in 1931.

  • Classes for children at Worser Bay School were arranged in 1932

  • For the first time, a club badge was issued to all members who paid their subscription.

  • The 1934 annual report expressed its admiration for the prompt action of two young members (C. McKnight and R. Smith) who saved two boys from drowning at Miramar wharf.

  • Long time club member Vic Allan was awarded the coveted Distinguished Service Medal by the Royal Life Saving Society.

1940 - 1950

  • Sergeant Pilots Stan Murphy and Ray Hill were reported as being prisoners of war.

  • Pilot Officer Ivan Stone, who had been reported missing in action, was now recorded as being killed in action.

  • Sub Lieutenant Jack Wallace became the second club member to be killed while on active service when he died in an air accident while serving with Fleet Air Arm.

  • Lieutenant Robin Waite returned from the war. He was the first club member to sign up for active service.

  • Colin Jones was unanimously elected as a Life Member in 1946.

  • A second placing by the juniors in New Plymouth heralded the first time in the club’s history that a Worser Bay team had been placed at the 1947 National Championships.

  • A grant of £35 was received under the Physical Welfare and Recreation Act and a new standard reel was ordered and 2 belts fitted with safety releases were purchased. The Wellington Surf Association donated a new cotton line to the club.

  • Bill Gerrie was elected President of New Zealand Surf Life Saving Association, and this was the highest honour that a Worser Bay Club member had ever achieved at a national level since the club was established.

1940 - 1950
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1950 - 1960

  • Nationals were held at New Plymouth in 1951 and the club won its first-ever national title in the Junior 6.

  • During the 1953-54 season, Chris Billing swam himself in to the New Zealand Surf team to tour Australia and became Worser Bay’s first-ever New Zealand representative. He again made the headlines swimming away with the NZ junior Surf race and recorded the club’s first-ever win in a New Zealand individual event.

  • At the Wellington championships, the juniors shared the Norman Sellen aggregate trophy as the best overall junior club in Wellington.

  • At the Wellington Championships in 1955, we scored a win in the senior Surf race and carried off the Otaki Shield for the first time in the club’s history.

  • In addition to winning the junior 6 National title for the second time in history, Worser Bay also won the junior 4 title for the first time in 1956. Add to these numerous other wins and Worser Bay was arguably the strongest all-round club in New Zealand.

  • In October 1956 the Scorching Bay Ladies Surf and Life Saving Club (our sister club) were officially in existence.

  • Membership, as reported at the first AGM in September was 50 members. The club trained enough women to enter a qualified four-person team in the Wellington Championships. Over the next few years, membership stayed steady.

  • During the 1958 National Championships, the club’s 4 man team won second place.  We also took out the beach sprint title and the NZ Beach relay title.

  • In 1959 the club’s senior 6 won the Hackshaw Shield in Wanganui for the first time.

  • At the Wellington Championships, we won both the senior surf race and beltmans event.

  • For the second year in succession, the Worser Bay 6 and 4 teams made the finals at the national champs and were the only Wellington club to do so.

1950 - 1960

1960 - 1970

  • The new clubhouse was duly completed in time for the club’s 50th jubilee celebrations and was officially opened on Sunday, 22 October 1961.

  • On 20 November 1962 Barrie Devenport successfully completed his second Cook Strait attempt. 

  • In 1963 the club won its second junior national surf race title. 

  • Ken Mitchell was voted by clubs New Zealand wide as a New Zealand selector. Ken was also awarded a New Zealand Service Award for his contribution to Surf Life Saving New Zealand wide.

  • Chris Billing was selected in the New Zealand team in 1964. It was the second time he had represented New Zealand.

  • At the end of the year it was decided that we no longer needed to be affiliated with the NZ Swimming Association and the club officially resigned.

  • In 1966 the club bought home the Wortaki shield.

  • The club’s first surfboat arrived, an old well-used ex-Australian boat, and was duly named Gaytime.

  • Europa Oil donated a brand new surfboat to the club in 1967. The club’s original Gaytime boat was renamed Europa II.

  • On April 10, 1968 – the Wahine sank on the club’s doorstep. Read More

  • During the 1968 National Champiosnips, held at Titahi Bay, the club won the New Zealand March Past title for the first time.

  • The club also achieved its first win in the senior surf race.

  • 1969 saw an incident with two Navel ratings lost overboard from the frigate Waikato at the entrance to Wellington harbour, highlighting the club’s need for a motorised patrol vessel. Local resident Dr. M. Ongley generously loaned his power boat which proved effective helping two distressed yachtsmen just off Scorching Bay.

  • One of Wellington’s best ever surf swimmers, Brian Crowder joined the club’s ranks and he became yet another Worser Bay man to represent New Zealand.

  • At Nationals the club won their first-ever New Zealand Surf Boat title, picked up by the juniors.

1960 - 1970

1970 - 1980

  • In our 60th year (1970) Brian Crowder was appointed captain of the New Zealand Surf Life Saving team.

  • The club took out the National junior Beltmans title in 1972.

  • 1972 was also the year that club lost one of its most significant stalwarts - Bill Gerrie.

  • Colin Jones was recognised for having served 25 years as the National Secretary of New Zealand Surf Life Saving.

  • In 1973 the Club’s Chief Instructor Ian Greenwood was selected as one of the NZ Delegates to the first-ever World Life Saving Congress in South Africa.

  • In 1974 a child died by drowning at Worser Bay during the Christmas holidays, which signalled the need for patrol hours to be expanded.

  • In 1975 the appointment of Jim Robertson as Wellington’s first paid lifeguard was a first for the club.

  • The club won the Open Neoprene Tube race in 1976 at Nationals. Silver medals were also won by the junior Taplin relay team and the senior Boat Rescue team.

  • Ian Greenwood was appointed National Chief Superintendant in 1977. He was also appointed manager of the NZ team at the second World lifesaving congress, in USA and Canada.

  • It was agreed to amalgamate with Scorching Bay Ladies in 1978 and a new constitution was adopted.

  • A win in the Junior Surf Race and the Junior Belt race. at the 1978 Nationals was a first for the Club.

  • Maxine Harding was the first Worser Bay woman to represent Wellington in 1979.

  • The club was awarded a certificate for the Outstanding Rescue of the Year in 1979 for a mass rescue on February 11th when a yacht got into trouble.

1970 - 1980

1980 - 1990

  • In 1980 the club won the Senior Teams Surf Race at Nationals for the first time.

  • The Club had another New Zealand representative in 1981 with Brent O’Neil selected to compete for New Zealand against the Australians.

  • Jim Robertson was selected as captain of the Wellington team in 1982. Rob Kawai was also selected along with 5 of the club’s 6 juniors who also made the Wellington representative squad.

  • For the first time ever, we achieved a win in beach flags at Nationals in 1983 at Westshore.

  • Local resident Doug Adams, who gained his bronze in 1930, was rewarded for his service with a Worser Bay Life membership in 1985.

  • It was recorded that Bill Richards, life member and long-time club stalwart died in 1986.

  • Ingrid Greenslade conquered the Cook Strait in 1986. Worser Bay was the first club to have both male and female swimmers successfully triumph over the Strait.

  • The club won the Rescue Tube event at Nationals in 1987, their first New Zealand woman’s title.

  • Anna Ballara became the first Worser Bay woman to be selected as a member of the NZ Surf team in 1988 and she competed for NZ against Australia at Taylor’s Mistake. 

  • Another first, the club’s senior canoe team won Silver at Nationals in 1988.

  • Ian Greenwood was voted in as a Worser Bay Life Member in 1988.

  • 1989 For the first time, Worser Bay won the Ashenden Shield as the season’s top-performing Women’s Club in Wellington.

worser bay shirt.jpg
1980 - 1990

1990 - 2000

  • Ken Mitchell was inducted into the NZ Surf Hall of Fame in 1991 in recognition of his huge and long-term contribution to NZ Life Saving.

  • Jan Dallison became the Club’s first-ever World Champion at the World Masters where she won the Ski Paddle event for her age group.

  • New Zealand and Wellington Distinguished Service Awards were made to Betty Smith, Jan Dallison, Murray Phipps Black, Andrew Barriball, Neil Bognuda and Jim Cornish.

  • Worser Bay provided Lifeguard services at the Dragon Boat training sessions and at the Dragon Boat event that resulted in an income of some $12,000 in 1992.

  • It was recorded that Ken Mitchell passed away during the 1993 season.

  • Jim Cornish was elected a Worser Bay Club life member.

  • At the Weetbix Kids Triathlon, held at Scorching Bay in 1995, lifeguards undertook multiple rescues with children unable to cope with the water and the conditions.

  • During the 1998 World Dragon Boat festival, held over 5 days, the club claimed to have rescued 966 people from Wellington harbour.

  • The end of this decade was a low period in the club’s history. Activity virtually died. The officers gave up. A windsurfing school took over the premises on a rental basis. Bills were left unpaid, GST returns were ignored and the club teetered toward the brink of extinction.

1990 - 2000
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2000 - 2010

  • By the year 2000, Worser Bay Life Saving Club had almost ceased to be operational.

  • In July of 2000, ex-club members met to discuss the club’s fate. It was decided in October that the club would resurge.

  • Ex-Lyall Bay members met with the committee to establish an under-14 junior surf program at Worser Bay. Within three months it was up and running.

  • A beach education program was introduced in 2001. 

  • By 2002 Worser Bay was competing in the region’s carnivals and finished second in the overall points for the inter-beach tournaments.

  • For the first time, a team of 10 entered the national nippers’ competition, Ocean Athletes at Mt Maunganui. Two members were also selected for the Wellington representative team.

  • The IRBs were also back on the water.

  • 2003-2004 was the best season competitively for the club since it was re-established. The highlight was national glory with two gold medals at ‘Ocean Athletes’.  

  • Worser Bay again excelled at Ocean Athletes in 2005, with another national title in flags (second year in a row) and a bronze in beach sprint.

  • For the first time in over 10 years, a junior Surf class was established and six new lifeguards qualified to patrol Wellington’s beaches. 

  • In 2006 the club had what remains its best performance yet at Ocean Athletes with golds in the board, run-swim-run and ‘diamond’ events; silver in the surf race and the 10/11 year old tube rescue; and bronze in the 12/13 yr tube rescue and 12 yr beach flags.

  • Worser Bay gained full official patrolling status in 2006.

  • The club’s first senior national title in over 20 years was picked up when the under-19 beach relay team won gold at Nationals in Gisborne. Another bronze was won in the under 16 beach flags.

  • 2007 saw the commemoration and 45th reunion of the first crossing of Cook Strait by Barrie Devenport.

  • Before John McMillan stepped down as chairman of the club, he took out the gold medal in the beach sprint at the National ‘Masters’ in Ohope in 2008. 

  • It was recorded that during 2009, club stalwart, Life Member and vice-president, Stewart Alexander passed away.

  • Dylan McKay won the SLSNZ Central region Junior Lifeguard of the Year Award in 2010.

2000 - 2010
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