Contest back at Doubtless Bay

Fire brigade rescues Taipa fishing event

The return of the annual Doubtless Bay Fishing Contest to Taipa Point over Auckland Anniversary Weekend has been welcomed by the wider community.

Formerly run as a joint venture by the three Lions organisations of Mangonui, Kaingaroa and Kaitaia, the future of the contest was secured when the Mangonui Fire Brigade announced it would take over the two-day event last October.

Alan Moros, the convenor of the fire brigade's fishing committee, said news coming midway through last year that the Lions would no longer organise the event had been met with widespread disappointment and had felt like the end of an era. Some believed the annual contest suffered a loss of momentum following a controversial land occupation of the venue, while the retirement of former event stalwart, convenor Dave Shalders, through illness also appeared to have had a detrimental affect.

The Taipa Tavern kept momentum and interest up by running a lower budget version of the event during the 2011 occupation, before the Lions' collaboration triumphantly returned in 2012. However, as a member of the Mangonui Lions, Moros said news that the Lions would later drop the event - more for political reasons rather than financial ones - had been no secret.

"The fishing committee [then] probably just ran out of puff. Everyone knew it was coming," he noted. Following internal discussions, the Mangonui Fire Brigade decided to take on the contest a short while afterwards.

"What inspired us to take it on? Basically the fire brigade, I believe, we are really community based. We felt we had the manpower. There was significant interest within the community when we announced we would make sure it did carry on," said Moros, adding there was "tremendous support" from both older sponsors and new ones.

These sentiments were echoed by Ralph Garvin, a spokesman for one of the event's long standing major sponsors, Kaitaia Tractors: "It was a shame when the event fell over but we are more than happy to be back on board."

Moros, also the region's fire policing officer, noted the competition basically followed the footsteps of its predecessor although the new committee had introduced quite a "few new things" in the reincarnated contest, including a nearest to average weight kingfish category with the prize pool for this species being worth over $7500 in prizes alone over the two fishing days.

Initial interest in registrations for the contest from anglers had been encouraging from both local and out of town anglers. Ticket sales were strong, although generally tend to pick up the final three days beforehand as anglers monitor the long weekend weather forecast. The main proceeds from this year's event will go towards completing a mobile water tanker, while organisers will consider other opportunities existing elsewhere within the community to fundraise for at future events.

This year's contest takes place on Saturday and Sunday, January 26-27, and features a $35,000 prize pool including $5000 for the nearest to average weight snapper, while a ride-on mower and 60" plasma flat screen television will be given away as lucky ticket holder draws. Also, as per tradition, all the fish weighed in will be auctioned off to the public at 4pm on both days

Tickets to the event cost $50 adults, $10 for juniors. For more information, visit the website or check out the advertisements posted around the Far North and featuring in the Northland Age.

- Northland Age

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