A day to remember at Purakaunui

Apart from some alarmingly rapid hopping by a few adults competing in a sack race, the pace of life was mostly laid-back during a sun-drenched family fun day at Purakaunui at the weekend.

As happy youngsters buzzed with excitement nearby, Ngaire Pattillo (93), of Dunedin, who first attended a fun day at Purakaunui nearly 90 years ago, spent a few moments remembering.

She has been heading over to Purakaunui for summer holidays since the early 1920s, when her family first acquired a crib there. It is still in family ownership.

The event, at the Mouat's Bay Reserve, had always been ''great'' to attend.

''It was always fun for kids.''

When the afternoon sack races were over, she strolled over to the beach to take a closer look at the decorated boat entries. This event was won this year by Annabelle Ritchie (14), with a hobbit-themed boat.

Another lively entry involved a kayak festooned with balloons.

Mrs Pattillo vividly recalled winning a similar boat-decorating event at Purakaunui in the early 1930s, at the age of 12. On that occasion her boat was decorated with toitoi and carried a lamp.

In those days the celebrations were particularly memorable, with boats progressing across the inlet at night on New Year's Eve with lamps burning aboard.

Purakaunui Amenities Society president Jude Newton said she was ''very, very pleased'' with the latest fun day, which had attracted about 100 people.

Beautiful weather had contributed to its success, and the latest form of the annual event, which had been running for about 10 years, was also gaining momentum, she said. Jo Burnside, who lives at Purakaunui, was also impressed.

''I've never seen such a happy and large crowd [at the annual event].''

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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