One-of-a-kind flax board makes waves

Tom Leckie with his surfboard made of flax stalks, at St Clair last night. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Tom Leckie with his surfboard made of flax stalks, at St Clair last night. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

A homegrown surfboard is making a splash around Dunedin beaches.

While a pupil at Port Chalmers School, Tom Leckie used to experiment making boats out of korari by gluing and shaping the flax stalks together.

But now, the 24-year-old carpenter has gone one better.

''I always had that idea to make a surfboard out of it. But, to be honest, I had no idea how to go about it.''

He began constructing the one-of-a-kind board for his girlfriend and two-time national surf champion, Daisy Thomas, while she was overseas.

Beginning in October 2010, he carefully glued strips of korari together after earlier harvesting around 600 mature stalks from the coastal Dunedin area, saying a karakia (prayer) as he did so.

By the end of the year - and hundreds of hours later - the recognisable shape of the board was finished, and he was able to applying fibreglass cloth and epoxy resin.

His girlfriend was ''blown away'' by the board, he said.

''The best thing about the board is watching other people surf it, because it surfs really well.''

Mr Leckie described himself as environmentally aware, and was pleased to utilise a natural foam to shape a surfboard ''It is sustainable foam. It can be grown, harvested and you can glue it together and make a surfboard.''

While the board was heavier than other surfboards, it was also more durable, but the labour intensive nature of its construction meant he regarded it more as a work of art than a future money-maker.

The board featured as part of an exhibition at the University of Otago's Te Tumu, School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies this month, where it also received a blessing.

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