Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Caravan meet showcases unique NZ-made model

Saturday marked the start of the Lilliput Caravan Club's five-day annual meeting, held at the Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park.

The Lilliput Caravan Club of New Zealand is a national organisation dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of the iconic Lilliput Caravans which were manufactured in Auckland from the early 1960s through to the late 1970s.

Rotorua member James Burt said this year's meeting theme was Hillbilly. The event drew 25 caravans from around the North Island.

A Hillbilly-themed dinner was held on Saturday night and last night a Hillbilly band played.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick joined the members on Saturday for the meeting's opening and for the dinner.

Yesterday afternoon the judging of the Concours d' Elegance, a competition for people who had dressed up their caravan in the theme and were competing for the Webster trophy, took place.

"They will go out of their way to do their caravans up to impress the judges."

Mr Burt said each year the winners became the judges for the next year's competition, with he and his wife being this year's judges.

The couple have been members of the club for three to four years, which is how long they have had their Lilliput caravan for.

He said the club had more than 90 members and it was estimated there had been about 233 Lilliput caravans made.

Mr Burt said he enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships from being part of the club.

He said you meet a lot of nice people, of all ages and from all walks of life.

Lilliput Caravans were designed and built by the late Bruce Webster, and his son Paul Webster, was attending the meet, he said.

Mr Burt said Lilliput caravans were a unique model and were considered iconic.

He said they could not be made any more as the actual moulds no longer existed.

"When they go up for sale they are snapped up and the price is escalating."

Tirau member Roger Belfield said this was about the sixth time he and his wife, Kristina, had been to the annual meeting.

He said for the theme they had put brush camouflage on the outside and there was an old fire set up out the front.

Inside was decked out with numerous old bits and pieces from their treasure hunting days and which suited the era, he said.

Mr Belfield said the people and the wonderful companionship was the main thing he loved about the club.

He said they had two Lilliput caravans and he liked them for their styling, size, look and the appeal.

"I suppose it's the era that it's captured of our past and being able to tell it with a classic vehicle is a treat in itself."

He said there was a lot of neat history which came with this model of caravan.

Lilliput Caravans:
- They were designed and built by the late Bruce Webster, an expatriate English coach-builder.
- His first attempt in 1962 was a compact design which make extensive use of light but very strong plywood.
- While only a few of the early designs incorporating plywood are known to be still in existence, the last two models endured better.
- They are the penultimate12/6 "Special" which is 12 feet 6inches long (3.81m) and the final model the 10 feet 6inches (3.20m) Gazelle.
Source: www.lilliput.org.nz

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