NZ Waterski Association


A Brief History of NZ Water Skiing

1954 to 1983

Water skiing from its humble beginnings started officially in New Zealand with the formation of a number of clubs 

  • The Auckland Water Ski Club on Orakei Basin formed & incorporated in 1954 by G Mason & J Whatnall 

  • The New Zealand Water Ski Club on Waipuna basin in 1954 & became an incorporated society in 1959 & changing its name to the Waipuna Water Ski club in 1975

  • The Wellington WSC on the Petone foreshore  in 1957 by K Mansfield

  • The Monaco Water Ski Club at Picton in 1956

  • The Christchurch Water Sport Club around 1958

However, the rapidly increasing popularity of the sport was bringing problems (unskilled boat drivers and skiers causing accidents). The clubs, still in their infancy did their best to overcome these problems but during 1956 & 1957 The NZ Marine Department received so many complaints about irresponsible boat drivers and water skiers that the banning of the sport was considered

Those associated with the sport since its beginnings agreed that some firm action was needed to place it on a sound basis, and in 1959 the Auckland clubs made a move towards the formation of a National Organisation. There was close liaison with The NZ Marine Department and Harbour Boards and an offer of cooperation was made and accepted. 
A meeting at Wairakei Rotorua in September 1958 inaugurated the New Zealand Water Ski Association& thus was formed in June 1959. The officers elected at that time were President, Mr. J. E. Farrelly; Vice-President, Mr. J. Whatnall; Secretary, Mr. R. Archer; Treasurer, Mr. N. Finch. Immediately after its formation, the association made a recommendation to the Marine Department and to Harbour Boards that ski lanes be provided wherever skiing was popular and wherever there was enough room on the beaches. The Department drew up regulations governing the sport in areas under its control and these were also adopted by the Harbour Boards. With the club movement continuing to grow, interest turned towards competitive skiing & the rules adopted in the United States were, and still are, the basis for competitions in New Zealand. During the Christmas period 1959–60 the first National Championships were held at Picton, sponsored by the Marlborough Cruising Club. The first annual meeting was also held and those officials elected at the inaugural meeting were re-elected. From this time on, the association, with headquarters at Auckland, went from strength to strength. Hitherto unknown clubs from all over the country applied for affiliation and helped in the organisation and administration of the sport. During 1960 the regional associations performed their true functions of drawing together all clubs in their area for the purpose of holding local tournaments. These culminated in the second national championships held in Auckland over Easter 1961. In the space of one year the standard had improved enormously and, in the final events, several competitors were well up to world standard.

The National Association, in addition to the normal administrating work in maintaining liaison between the various regions, and clubs throughout the country, has been most active in ensuring that recognised ski lanes are promulgated through the Marine Department in various lakes, beaches, and harbours throughout New Zealand. It was also responsible for NZ Team Selections, Rules and guidelines for water skiers travelling to overseas competitions. The National Competition was predominately Tournament water skiing (Slalom, Trick & Jump) with Barefoot Water skiing and Ski Racing coming into fruition in the 1970’s (I remember in the late 60’s the Barefoot Champion was decided at the end of the Tournament Nationals running a figure 8 course & won by the person who could stay on the longest). Barefoot Water Skiing joined around 1973 and Ski Racing around 1975 

The Association was originally made up of the elected board plus 2 delegates from each Regional Association representing the Clubs within their area, This changed in the 70’s to the elected board plus 1 Regional Delegate & 1 Code delegate each from Tournament, Barefooting & Ski Racing

1983 to 1987

As the world of water skiing changed and the Divisions grew it became impractical for the National Association to administer all of the Divisions and the decision was made for each Division to become an Association within itself. At the time Trevor Fowler & John Weller Snr happened to be the delegates for Tournamant and the decision was made that Trevor would become President and John Snr would become Secretary/Treasurer and together they formed NZTWSA. I believe Malcolm Bennet (Ski Racing) and John Morgan (Barefoot) led the formation of those divsions.

The transformation was instigated & meant that the National Association now comprised of the Elected Executive who were Don Rallinson, Bernie Coyle, John Whatnall & Lyn Carmichael and 2 Delegates from each Division (NZTWSA,BNZ,SRNZ).


1988 to Present

In 1984 the decision was made by Don Rallinson & John Wigglesworth to create a Trust under the National Association to raise funds that enabled assistance to NZ representing Teams overseas. They approached the ‘Water Ski Families’ of the day to make donations to get the fund started, These included the Wigglesworth, Rallinson,Whatnall, Weller, Douglas, Carmicheal,Coyle families to name a few. Unfortunately Don died around 1985 and the Trust being formulated was known as the Don Rallinson Foundation continued to be formed by John Wigglesworth, John Weller Snr, Bruce Douglas & John Whatnall and formally incorporated on 9th august 1988. These 4 instigators remained as active Trustee’s & Investors for the Trust for many years. John Wigg retired 2011, John Whatnall retired 2000, Bruce Douglas died in office 2000 and John Weller snr retired 2016

New comers to the National Association include Wakeboarding in the early 1990’s and Cable in 2016

The National Association acts as the Governing Body for Water Skling in New Zealand, They are the first point of call and facilitators between the Water Skiing World Body & the  NZ Government. In todays operation although still involved with NZ Marine Dept issues they also ensure rules and governance are abided by to the IWWF world body, cover affiliation fee’s that allow NZ Water Skiers to not only compete in the world but allow their local scores to be credited, ensure NZ gets voting and speaking rights at world meetings, deals with Sports Drug issues & compliances & operates closely with Sports NZ to ensure that the growth & strategy of the sport in its entirety flourishes, They also maintain a full membership listing and are often called apon for comment on local issues & accidents and employment queries where someone has listed themselves as a water ski champion.

Its important to note that the NZ Water Ski National Championship Titles belong solely to the National Association for all Divisions along with the conduct & manner for  representing skiers overseas even though these days it doesn’t present the titles or select the teams.

As of 2020 the National Association has only had 11 Presidents in its 62 year history