History of the Competition

The first competition held by Rakaia River Fishing Promotions Inc. was held in 1983 with $13,000 in prize money and went for 5 days at a cost of $30 a senior entry. This idea came from Bruce Kelly (owner of Rakaia River Holiday Park at the time), after suggestions from the convenor of the Ninety Mile Beach Snapper competition, with the help of local business people Mike Manion, Brian Nelson, Mark Cromie and others.
This proved to be a big success and prompted us to carry on and organise a further competition in 1984. This time we were able to offer prize money and sponsored prizes to a value of around $20,000. The next year the sponsored prizes grew along with the prize money and each year after that. From there we have gone from strength to strength. The first five events were held at Whitings old shop using the Domain for the prize giving’s. With nothing organised in the evenings the Camp ground and pubs were lively places.
The 1988 competition was the first to be held in the Community Centre, featuring live bands, fishing auctions and a professional compere. This Compere, Russell Collinson, became a very good friend to many of our organisers and competitors and he continued to come from Whangarei until the year 2000. This new format proved to be very popular and continued through to the present day.
In 1991 the competition dropped down to 4 days then in 1992 the committee decided to make it a 3 day fishing competition with prizes valued at over $55,000. In 2002 the committee decided that in the interests of conserving fish stocks following the very bad fishing season of 2000-2001 we would not hold our annual fishing competition, instead a purely social function was held a “No Fishing Competition” with a Grand Social Night featuring Dwayne Francks and Allan Morettini.
In 2003 there was a limit of 750 placed on the number of senior entrant. Due to the changes in the internal affairs application the committee decided to cap the 2006 competition prize value at $50,000. For many years Russell Collinson compered our competition followed by Dwayne Franks, Jon Gadsby and in 2007 Dick Talyer. A great variety of entertainment was used at night from Country and Western singers to three piece bands.
Following the early competitions the committee have strongly rejected large cash sums and draw cards such as cars for fish over a certain weight as we feel that this could promote bad sportsmanship. We are wherever possible keen to promote good sportsmanship.