Sport history: Bevan puts in a good word


Bevan Choat will tell you, with a chuckle, an anecdote about Taupo's "Mr Sport", the late Owen Delany.

Keen to ensure a visiting rugby team enjoyed fine Taupo hospitality, Delany had put some beers in the showers under running water to keep them cool for after the game. But his plan backfired when he mistakenly turned the showers to hot - and the players were instead treated to warm beers and cold showers.

Ask Choat anything about sport in Taupo over the past 90 years and chances are he'll know the answer, and maybe a quirky fact or amusing anecdote to go with it.

And, keen to ensure that knowledge won't be lost, the former school principal and sports journalist has spent 10 years compiling a comprehensive history of Taupo sport, from the 1920s through to 2002. While Choat originally intended to write a book, the final product has morphed into an 81-page document, which cross-references all the clippings and information that he has accumulated over the years.

Choat, then the principal of Waipahihi School in Taupo, became the sports reporter at Radio Lakeland in 1968. He would prepare a Saturday sports bulletin and then spend Saturday afternoon reporting from local sports fixtures around Taupo before presenting an evening summary of the sports that day.

On Monday morning he would present a 7am weekend sports round-up before heading off to school for another week. He also provided sports coverage for the wider YC radio network, reporting on international sports fixtures held in Taupo. Some of his live reports were broadcast as far afield as Radio South Africa, Radio New Zealand Sport and in the Pacific.

When Choat retired from teaching at age 51, he completed a two-year diploma in freelance journalism in less than a year and took up a 20-hour-a-week position as sports reporter at the Taupo Times, which he held until 2002. He also contributed Taupo sports stories to national newspapers.

Meticulously organised, Bevan has saved all his radio scripts and 2250 pages of his newspaper stories, published in Taupo and in papers throughout New Zealand. While it was a relatively straightforward job to put all his own information together, looking further back took more effort. Choat spent hours searching newspaper archives for sports records, as well as talking to contacts and drawing on his own information to put together Taupo's sports history as far back as the 1920s.

Choat said what he especially enjoyed during his years of sports reporting was raising the profile of talented Taupo athletes, including Dion Waller, Noeline Taurua and Bevan Docherty.

"All this material promoted Taupo people and it makes you feel good about it that you've had a real hand in developing it and that material needed to go out to the rest of New Zealand, too," he said.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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