Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Rotota Sun Club,New Zealand,free of clothes
Our primary objective as detailed in our constitution is "to provide a safe an welcoming environment where members and guests may enjoy social activities, relaxation and recreation - free of clothes".
Rotota has a history stretching back some decades, right back to the original Rotorua Sun Club. The story is best told by Leo, one of Rotota's foundation members and a life member, who sadly passed away in late 2004. Fortunately Leo wrote down his personal recollection of the history of the club for a newsletter back in 1998 and expressed his willingness for the history to form a part of our website as long as it was not edited.
Here, verbatim, is Leo's History.
I joined the Rotorua Sun Club in September, 1973. The club consisted of about 20 devoted members and was situated at Paradise Valley in Rotorua.
The Rotorua Sun Club (RSC) started in 1969 with a handful of members meeting regularly at Waiotapu near a hot stream. Later on they were able to lease a site from a local sympathetic farmer at Paradise Valley. The lease was on a year to year basis. The area was very secluded and surrounded by lots of beautiful huge pongas and native bush. An icy cold mountain stream was flowing through the club grounds.
New members had to undergo an initiation ritual. They had to stand in a deep hole in the icy water for 60 seconds. I think such water treatment was the maximum anyone could endure. I never saw anyone refusing to take part in the ritual, as it was a lot of fun followed with a barbecue, drinks and music.
As time went on the membership increased to about 70. The club grounds were inaccessible during the winter months.
In the meantime, about half a dozen prominent nudists from various clubs all over New Zealand wanted to set up a “National Nudist Resort” and subsequently formed a “Trust”. The Trust held a meeting at Englands Motor Camp at Ohope. After having advertised all over the country’s nudist clubs, the Trust decided to have their last meeting. Englands offered a quarter share of his motor camp to the Trust as an alternative to Orakei Korako. There were about 50 shareholders present and the proposal was turned down flat.
It was then our turn and in broad terms we proposed an amalgamation of interests between the Rotorua Sun Club and the Trust. We emphasized that interests of both parties need to be protected and that RSC would be looking towards retaining its identity. Our emphasis was on the amalgamation of interests and the proposition was accepted unanimously by the shareholders.
The following factors influenced the RSC to make the proposition:
1) Our leased grounds were on a year to year basis and the farm was recently put into the market.
2) The Orakei Korako area is central to our club membership of Rotorua, Tokoroa and Taupo.
3) There were 20 acres involved at Orakei Korako and the Trust had intimated that a section of this would be set aside for the exclusive use of the RSC.
4) The property would be available to members all year round.
5) The RSC would have its own grounds without outlaying large sums of cash.
6) The property is “thermal” making it unique in the nudist movement.
Our ever so enthusiastic president had put in a lot of hard work to convince the RSC members that the time had come to make decisions.
More and more Sun Club members all over the country became interested in the proposition and the Trust ended up with over 200 shareholders. Lots of obstacles had to be overcome. Both parties involved were doing their utmost to resolve any problems and you will understand that there was a lot of time, energy and effort needed to resolve some of the legal problems.
Our main aim was to set foot on those grounds and start developing. We were the pioneers and were pretty determined to take on such a massive task.
Our first visit to our future grounds happened on the 18th of February 1979. We went by jet boat from Orakei Korako and landed where the tub is now. With approximately 25 of us, we ascended the steep hill. With great determination we slowly battled our way through the dense undergrowth pushing and supporting each other and making sure no one was left behind. Huffing and puffing we finally reached the top somewhere near where the clubhouse now stands. However, the hill was much higher then before it was levelled off. There were huge pine trees and lots of undergrowth but not as dense so progress was a bit easier.
We looked down on to the rimu tree in the gully. I told everyone that it has to stay where it was no matter what happens to the rest of the trees nearby. Everybody agreed.
We slowly trundle along and had lunch in the vicinity of the tractor shed. We discussed cutting down the pine trees and undergrowth to make room for future camping. We all realized what was involved and the mammoth task that lay ahead of us. But nothing could dampen our pioneer spirit.
Documents between Geyserland Leisure Park (GLP) and the RSC were signed in September 1, 1984 at the Hideaway Hotel, Taupo. This was followed by a celebration by the Trust and RSC members who were present. Wine and whisky were flowing. Indeed this was something to celebrate about. We had achieved something and RSC could pursue its objectives.
On February 25, 1979, RSC held a Special General Meeting at the grounds at Paradise Valley. We discussed tentative proposals of being involved in the National Nudist Resort. The input was very positive by most of the members.
Nothing much happened in the succeeding months as legal matters were still being sorted out.
By December 1979, a purchase agreement had been drawn up and was about to be signed.
In the meantime, the RSC membership was on the increase. We were inundated with visitors from all over the country eager to hear about the proposed move to Orakei Korako. By now most club members all over NZ became interested.
Meanwhile, the RSC put on lots of entertainment in the winter for its members. These socials were held at individual member’s homes in Rotorua, Tokoroa, Taupo and Okareka as we did not have a clubhouse at the grounds.
Came February 1980, a deposit was paid by GLP for the Orakei Korako property.
On Easter Sunday (April 1980) about 27 RSC members went to the grounds at Orakei Korako for further exploration. We had decided to cut out a walking track from Te Kopia Rd. to get access to the grounds from the other side. This is now the improved access road to the club grounds.
Once inside the forest, everything was wet, dark and awesome. Dead trees, fallen down trees, and hollow trees were all covered with moss and lichen. We proceeded slowly towards the grounds hoping to keep the right direction by following our leader. The six children in our party took an interest in the many toadstools growing everywhere. I told the kids not to damage the toadstools as the Gnomes who lived in the hollow trees used the stools as shelter on rainy days. They also sit on them after a day’s work. I dwelled on and told the kids about the Gnome who was resting on a toadstool and fell asleep. That’s when the kids became more interested and wanted to hear the story. During the night the toadstool started to grow and by the time the Gnome woke up he could not get down any more. His mates started looking for him in the morning and found him high up on the toadstool. They went to get a ladder and helped the little fellow to get down. After that little story some of the children got carried away and told me later that they have seen a number of Gnomes running fast and hiding behind big trees. As a matter of fact, I am sure I saw some Gnomes myself!
Finally after hours of hard going, we arrived at a natural clearing near the gate. We sat down and had a good time together . . . talking and admiring the beauty and tranquillity of the place. We were also a bit apprehensive about how the place should be developed. We were aware of the huge trees leaving large stumps and how to remove them.
In the meantime, some members had found the hot creek by chance. Just imagine 29 naked adult bodies and 6 children in the fast flowing hot water creek . . . relaxing and soaking up the heat surrounded by dense native bush!
We came across Koromiko, Raramu, Rangiora, lemonwood, pongas, cabbage tress, Croprosmas and lots of unknown species. There were also a few obnoxious ones like the old man’s beard and blackberries.
Yes, this was the Garden of Eden, no doubt about it. There were plenty of Adams and Eves, too. But I never saw the Serpent, nor the apple.
After that lovely experience we were more determined to set foot on those grounds regardless how difficult the task would be.
By August of 1980, about 10 RSC members spent two wet days with chainsaws and a bulldozer owned by a member to form a road through the forest from Te Kopia Rd to the lake following our previously cut track. Those members involved with this project suffered under adverse weather conditions and finished up with the bulldozer stuck in the lake. Nevertheless they had set the example that everything could be done. This was an inspiration to the rest of the members to push on with whatever difficult task that lay ahead.
Now, cars were able to drive as far as the gate.
September 5, 1980 saw all RSC members having their first barbecue near the gate as there was a natural open area. A large pot of vegetable soup was put on to the barbecue. It was one large block of ice. Dry wood to fire the barbecue was hard to find and it took a long time to thaw the soup. Anyway, as always, we did have a good time with everyone enjoying the soup, sausages and other delights.
During the Christmas holiday, members camped at the new grounds. We sort of used both grounds (Rotorua and Geyserland) at this time and it worked rather well.
On the 8th of March 1981, RSC organized a Special General Meeting at the Rotorua grounds. We wanted to discuss the proposed move to GLP. Many of the RSC members did not want to move, consequently splitting up the club. There was no choice but to leave the Valley as the farmer had terminated the lease. Those who did not want to move to GLP found a place at Lake Rotorua. Well, things like that happen in life and I regretted losing so many friends.
We picked a weekend to move all our belongings from Paradise Valley to Orakei Korako. The move went relatively smooth as most members had cars, trailers and one brought a truck. A lot of manpower was put into action. The place we left behind was in perfect condition. Some of us did have an empty feeling leaving our lovely Paradise with so many happy memories. However, the rest of us had no time for sentimental feelings as there lay a big task ahead of us.
Once settled at the grounds more or less, most of us started to explore more and more of our 20 acres. We found an area in between two gullies now called Sally’s Alley. There was a bit of an open space so we decided to extend the area to be able to put a few tents up in the future. Everybody started hacking, digging, cutting, slashing and tidying up in general. I had a long handled spade to level off a certain area. All of a sudden I found myself in the same situation when I was 15 years of age digging one man holes for the Germans during the war. The only difference in this case was there were no guards and I could escape if I wanted to. I must have become a bit agitated for all of a sudden the handle of my shovel broke clean in half. That was a big laugh and when I came back to reality I did escape because I needed a rest badly. Anyway, at the end of the day one could see the progress we had made and lo and behold everyone was happy and ready for the next project.
By the time we moved to GLP the RSC membership had increased to about 70. Only 22 members wanted to take on the enormous task of developing GLP.
Every weekend members were working hard. We were enthusiastic, happy, active and motivated.
There was one weekend that I’ll never forget. That’s when the Tokoroa members arranged some bush workers with chainsaws and heavy machinery to clean the top end completely of pine trees and stumps. This was just about unbelievable and all that for a few dozen of beer and a bottle of whisky. the Tokoroa members never told anyone about this and as you can imagine it was a big surprise to the rest of us.
The next weekend a grader arrives and started levelling the top end to what it is today. The job took all day and I believe just for a bottle of whisky. I must say that the Tokoroa members had a way of accomplishing projects that we never could achieve without machinery.
Soon the top end was grassed and ready for camping.
Things were going our way and we wanted to show the shareholders and the Trust what we could do as a team and kept our promise of the deal.
By October, 1981 we had our first committee meeting at the grounds and by December the top end was opened up for camping . . . grassed and all. We invited the shareholders for a free camping weekend in December of the same year.
Membership increased dramatically. We were doing fine but as with most clubs money was always running short. Up to now we had managed to pay the Trust regularly. However, developing the grounds was our priority. We were one big family, very close to each other and everyone was involved in one or another project. We all worked hard but also knew how to relax. Many private functions were organized in Rotorua, Tokoroa and Taupo and were usually well attended by members. And man, did we have some fantastic parties!
We decided to change the name of the club (Rotorua Sun Club) as we thought it was no longer applicable. Everyone came up with names and some were quite unusual. It wasn’t easy. At one of our meetings someone came up with an idea. He thought that since our grounds were situated in the centre of the North Island between Rotorua, Tokoroa and Taupo, we take the first two letters of each place and joined them as one thus forming RO - TO - TA. Would you believe it? Everyone was silent for a moment and then the clapping started. About six strong members hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him all over the grounds. Very clever and no doubt that name was unanimously accepted and has ever since stuck to our club.
More heavy machinery were brought in and the bush contractors levelled off the rest of the grounds getting the trees in payment for work done as arranged by the club. Working Bees were organized to sow the lawns, tidy up and build long drops. Come 1982 members were asked for debentures and the response was terrific. We needed money to build the clubhouse.
Christmas holiday 1982-83 had our grounds full of campers and visitors from all over NZ. Our club was unique with its beautiful views, scenery, shrubbery, forest not to forget the hot water creek. We had retained our own identity. We also became known as the friendly club. We even had a mother of the club.
More and more debentures came in and ultimately had enough cash to start buying building materials for the clubhouse. Some Tokoroa members negotiated a good deal and the Clubhouse was up and ready to be used by Christmas 1983.
It took us a long time to pay back the debentures. Money came in and money was spent. I must say spent very carefully.
By 1984 we were informed that the Trust had a problem with the bank. We were asked for $500.00 debentures. Well, as you can imagine, that was something. But within three weeks four members came up with $500.00 each and one with $300.00. Would you believe this?
This was very pleasing to the Trust and stopped the bank manager from moaning.
Rotota could do anything and those debentures were paid back within three years. What an achievement!
I like to mention that at times Rotota has been on the very edge of going in recess. But then again we always seemed to find a way out. Our togetherness and sheer determination made us conquer the impossible. I can tell you we survived. “VENI, VIDE, VICI.” Was our slogan. I came, I saw, I conquered. There was no way we were giving up after our hard battle to get us where we were. This was our “ROTOTA” and nobody was going to take our grounds away from us. We had a powerful weapon called “Determination”.
Not before long we pumped up water from the lake. After a while we had drinking water and also a good number of long drops. We were now fully established and could provide the basics. I can say that by 1985 we were on top of things and the foundation had become strong and solid thanks to the effort, energy and determination of each individual member.
The time had come for me to take it easy and relax. That’s when I moved to Lagoon in early 1986. Only a few of the original RSC members are still with Rotota. Some moved out of the district and others stayed away when their children became teenagers.
It pleases me to see the improvements and developments continuing to better the facilities foe members and visitors and for Rotota to keep its unique identity. I see Rotota as one of the most beautiful, tranquil and efficiently run among sun clubs in the country. The increase in membership over the years is evidence enough that the energy and effort put in are paying off.
In those early days, I served as committee member for seven years and was the treasurer for four years.
Well, this is the story of my involvement with Rotota in my own words and my own personal experience. I hope it has given you an insight of our endeavours in the creation of our “Garden of Eden” . . . Rotota. I likewise hope that my account has been informative and inspiring. Rotota has a great future and as a foundation member of the club, I found it appropriate to write about Rotota after having been asked to do so by some members of the club.
In the meantime I hope to be around for a long time yet.
Good luck to all of you. Yours in nudism, Leo
Phone: +64 (7) 333 7105 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +64 (7) 333 7105 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
All official inquiries should be directed to the following address:
Rotota Sun Club Inc.
PO Box 1164