The subject of lost soles without a home hit the headlines this last week when Mauao management did a flip flop and took down the jandal fence.

Personally, I found the eating of kai and cellphones around Mauao more offensive but there is more than one way to wear one jandal.

If Taihape can have the big gumboot and Ohakune the carrot, then surely the jandal can be the iconic trademark of the Mount.

Perhaps the council needs to handle the jandal on this one and rename Coronation Park to Jandal in the Wind Park and build the biggest jandal fence for lost soles to hang their Havianas on?


If hanging out jandals was hot on this side of the coast then hanging 10 on the other side of the island at Piha was hotter as a whanau full of Arataki surfers were jandalising the National Surfing competition by taking out three national titles.

For a tiny township/community the size of Arataki to take out three national sporting titles the question has to be asked: how, or more importantly, why?

Is it something in the water? Is it the way they wear their jandals, wax their boards or is it genetically implanted from a hundred generations back when the winners' ancestors rode the backs of big waves on traditional waka all the way from Hawaiki to Tauranga Moana?

Take your pick but for Kaya Horne, winner of the National under-14s, Kea Smith, double champion, under-16 and under-18 (and only 14) and Kehu Butler, double champion under-16 and under-18 (also only 14), you would want to bottle this success and share it with all of the tamariki of Tauranga.

So is there something in the water that makes these champions manifest themselves growing up in Arataki?

Probably not.

It has a little to do with the waves that tangaroa provides but a lot to do with the support that their parents provide, and going by what was achieved in Piha, the whanau support was there in van loads - not to mention the kai tent that pumped out chilly bins full of healthy kai with not a mention of K-fry or Mickey Dees.

The genesis of surfing in Arataki can be traced to the '70s and '80s when the Bennett Brothers (Allan, Bruce, Paul and the late Keith) took to surfing like a duck to water, and given their bikes couldn't carry them and their big dunga boards all the way down to the Mount, they set up shop in their own backyard on the beaches at Arataki.


School marks at Mount College may have suffered, with clandestine beach patrols by "Black Bill" and Mr Pollard no match for the streetwise Aratakians, but results on the newly formed surfing circuit soon showed, with Paul taking out a national title and where one leader goes a band of young grommets soon followed.

Standing on the sideline, or shoreline in this case, you get a sense of the big picture that these genetically inspired trifecta of champion surfers could do for a community such as Arataki.

In any sport developing future layers of champions has huge benefits to the community and for the community of Arataki the platform has been laid down and should be ridden like a perfect wave of opportunity.

Perhaps an Arataki Surfing Academy should be on the council and community radar to foster these and soon to follow future champions?

We all can benefit from what the Bennett brothers started back in the '70s. Creating champions in our community paves the way for them to become community leaders and if there is anything lacking in the long white wave of Aotearoa it is community leaders.

The beautiful thing about the sport of surfing is all ages can participate as we have seen by the three champions who surf almost daily with their parents and local legend Jeremy Williams taking out the over-55s at the same competition.

Surfing is synonymous with growing up at the Mount, just like jandals.

We have a world class facility in our backyard and Matakana just a brief paddle away.

If we, the three iwi and communities can capture what has happened with their trifecta of junior surfing champions, and set up an Arataki Surfing Academy, and at the same time nourish their academic abilities, it could be a game changer.

Be it jandal in the wind or bro on a board, the literal translation of Arataki - to pave the way forward, will be a wave we could all ride.

Tommy Wilson is a best -selling author and local writer.