Despite being a massive success on a variety of fronts, the organisers of one of the Far North's newest fishing competitions have been left unsure about the event's future.
The GR8X 2019 fishing competition held at Great Exhibition Bay on Friday and Saturday, September 20 and 21, attracted a huge turnout with 400 seniors, 45 intermediates and 30 junior anglers taking part (the junior division aimed at children aged up to seven who fished from a pool full of rubber fish each with a species and weight on the bottom).
Stunning weather meant a huge crowd gather on Saturday afternoon for prizegiving which featured 16 major spot prizes worth $11,400 in a total prize pool estimated at about $20,000 and including 70 lucky draws and three early bird draws.
Event spokesman Robert Everitt said anglers travelled from as far south as Canterbury to attend the overnight tournament with the home base and prize giving based on the lower part of Everitt's Farm.
"Of course, many [of the younger ones] just come to enjoy the beach and play in the sun and sand ... [the majority] to fish such a place of beauty and enjoy a family-orientated event," Everitt said.
"The greatness of having a competition like this is to see not just the people visiting wonderful Northland but the money they also bring into the area to local business," he said. It was also great seeing all of the welcoming faces as whanau met to have a good catch-up."
The main highlight for organisers of the GR8X 2019 was being able to donate $4410 to NEST (Northland Emergency Services Trust), the Northland Rescue Helicopter at the event prizegiving.
On site to accept the cheque, NEST GM Vanessa Fruze spoke about how much the donation meant in enabling her organisation to stay in the air.
"We have been caring for Northland for 30 years and in the time transported 20,000 people to safety," she said. "We have experienced an exponential growth in the demand for our services with consistent year-on-year cost increases. Last year alone we transported 999 people to hospitals or medical facilities around the north.
"On average, the Northland Rescue Helicopters are in the air three times a day. We have three new birds about to come online so every bit helps."
Fruze said NEST is a non-profit registered charity owned by the Northland community and funded by local sponsors, individuals, families, businesses and organisations.
Everitt said the GR8X 2019 competition was only a success because of the efforts of a hard-working team of 19 and the support of myriad "fantastic" sponsors as much as the hundreds of fishers aged from one to 81 who took part.
He said the non-profit committee also offered catering to different local entities so others could benefit, while the event was also well supported by local emergency services staff from Houhora police, St John and fire brigade.
On behalf of organisers, he congratulated local auctioneer Brad Jackson for auctioning the fish and "drawing the money out of everyone's pockets ... [But] There are so many to acknowledge but there are not enough words, so our committee simply says, 'We Salute You!'"
On a sadder noted, Everitt said that while many had already shown interest for a competition next year, organisers were unsure if they will be able to run it again.
The Te Runanga Nui o Te Aupouri and Parengarenga Incorporation gave notice it will be taking a collaborative approach to managing accessways to Great Exhibition Bay.
Everitt said the organisation advised it will be seeking consultation from any future enterprises likely to impact on "Aupouri areas of responsibility".
• A full list of results will feature on Thursday.