Hats off to Eastland
Hats off to little Eastland – the NZMCA’s smallest Area numerically – which capped a stellar couple of years by hosting the Association’s 63rd National Rally & AGM in early March.
As previous National Rally host Areas will tell you, that’s a huge undertaking in itself. But that’s only the start of what the dedicated local volunteers – who were drawn from a total Eastland Area individual membership of just 892 – have achieved in the past two years.
Just look at what they have done:
- Put their hand up to organise the most important annual event on the NZMCA calendar;
- Taken on the mammoth task of rebuilding the Association’s #1 motorhome – the vintage REO Speedwagon previously owned by NZMCA founders Andy and Gladys Anderson;
- Oh yes, and somehow they have also found time to develop, open and maintain two new NZMCA Parks – Gisborne and Te Araroa – in their Area.
“Those are fantastic achievements that even the largest NZMCA Areas would struggle to provide the expertise for,” said NZMCA President Bruce Stanger. “So, I think what Eastland has achieved is just outstanding.
“The National Rally & AGM went off really well – having Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis there to open it was a real coup and, of course, the unveiling of the REO just brought the house down. “The Minister was absolutely intrigued by it and ending up spending way more than his scheduled time with us, inspecting the REO and chatting with members. “It turned out that his grandparents, Ron and Beryl Clow, were amongst our earliest members and served as the Association’s Vice-President and Secretary way back in the mid-60s.
Later, they were just the fourth recipients of Life Membership of the Association. “In a happy coincidence the historic pictures of early members’ motorhomes which the Eastland Area had organised to decorate the hall, included one of his grandparents’ motorhome Wanderlust – which we were delighted to present to him.”
Another honoured guest at the unveiling – and one of the first people to be shown through the vehicle’s beautifully finished interior – was the Anderson’s daughter, current NZMCA member Heather Pearce. Blown away by the quality of the refurbishment, Heather commented that it looked even better than the original, while faithfully recreating much of the interior fittings as she remembered them. While the REO naturally took centre stage at the rally, around it the Eastland Area organised a smooth-running event with a ‘Back to the Future’ theme. Attracting more than 1200 members to the idyllic surrounds of the Gisborne A&P Showgrounds, the event was big news locally – earning front page coverage two days running in the local daily newspaper.
For attendees, the laidback rally had it all – a warm welcome from local iwi, interesting workshops, an excellent trades area; the novelty of a scenic train trip, camaraderie, great evening entertainment – and a unique opportunity to reconnect with the Association’s history in the very place where it all started. Well done Eastland – the Association’s 63rd National Rally & AGM will long be remembered as a very special event by all who attended.