I started skateboarding in the mid-’70s in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland was a pretty cool place to start skateboarding, soon after I got my “Go Power” flat plastic skateboard our primary school allowed us to ride them during lunch time around the netball courts, within 3 years we had our first skatepark at Marlborough Park on the North Shore of Auckland Harbour, it was a hilly snake run into a shallow, mellow bowl, this design sent you flying, speed wobbling into the mellow bowl with way to much speed and the mellow banks sometimes couldn’t eat all the speed so you would fly over the top into the grass. Other than that, the terrain was whatever you could find, we spent our early days bombing hills and riding driveways and searching for anything that presented a challenge. It was fun and within a year of Marlborough Park being built, New Lynn bowl was opened, this was 15 minutes from home by bike so I was there every night. This skate park is still there and is a regular stopover by traveling skateboarders, its main feature is the full pipe in the bottom bowl. One great aspect of New Zealand is they don’t pull down the old public skateparks. It has a top half peanut shaped bowl with a left flat wall leading into a tight snake run through a full pipe into the bottom bowl. They named this park “Mini Upland” because of the full pipe.
Local Darryl-bottom bowl Local Lynden busting a Layback air Lee Ralph Handplant-bottom bowl
The skate park was full of skaters every weekend from dawn till dusk. This park was awesome and so many skaters cut their teeth riding this park. It had smaller sections so you could progress to the bigger bottom bowl. My dad made all of my decks because all that was still available there were plastic generic type boards, he eventually pressed a whole quiver of timber boards for me for all different types of terrain. Other public parks were built, most of them were tight but loads of fun. Skatopia, a different version of the Buena-Vista park was constructed in 1978, it had a similar layout to the park in LA except the halfpipe didn’t have brick extensions, it was all ride-able vert instead. This park developed some amazing skaters, Peter Boronski, Grant Macredie, Elroy Ainslie, Victor Victovich, Rodney Barnett, Dave Crabb, Steve Dwyer, and the younger crew, Andrew Moore, Andrew Morrison, Geoff Wright, Warwick Bliss and so many more.
Me- halfpipe walk back to the top. rail grab Peter Boronski
Chris Strople visited the skate park in 1979 to demo and judge the New Zealand National Championships. Chris came to NZ with an arsenal of new tricks that we hadn’t even seen in magazines yet. In NZ, we used to get Skateboarder Magazine 6 months after it hit the shelves in the US. Once in a while, we’d do mail order to Val Surf. There was no way you would get exactly what you sent away for, it was always a lottery, sometimes it worked out better because you got the latest release or now and again, you’d something entirely different from the order placed. Chris introduced us to rock n rolls, rock n roll slides, backside foot plants and an aggressive yet fluid style of skating that nobody except for Boronski had seemed to tap into. Chris judged the contest. Back then you had to compete in slalom, freestyle and bowl riding, you had to do well enough in all three disciplines otherwise your overall score would suck. I got second in the slalom, fourth in the freestyle and I won the bowl riding section, that put me in second place overall, it was my first contest and I was stoked. Chris got me hooked up with Caster and with that came a gullwing and wings wheels sponsorship.
Chris at Skatopia-1979 Chris and I
Hamilton bowl was built in 1980, this bowl was about two hours from Auckland so it was always a weekender. A photographer and family friend Jack Betham used to do the trek every Saturday down south to the bowl, he used to pick us all up in Manukau and drive us via Waiuku (why-oo-Koo), a tight little park with a half-pipe, bank /freestyle area and three quarter bowl to break the drive, then onto Hamilton. The bowl opened with a contest, the builders did a great job except the coping stuck out two inches all the way around, not long after the contest they rendered a two foot section at the top of the surface of the pool so the coping stuck out where it should (you can tell in the pics the one with Peter is contest day and the one with Campbell is a while after the contest with the rendered concrete section obvious below the coping). The New Zealand championships were held there in 1980. This was one of my all time favorite places to skate. The pool is still there.
Peter Boronski – Hamilton 1980 Local ripper Campbell Harpy -1980
That year at Skatopia I won the NZ junior title and the Junior cross country event. The cross country is where you skate a designated course across the whole skate park and whoever has the fastest time is the winner. I met up with Lee Ralph at Avondale intermediate school and we went skating every night together at New Lynn and talked the sports teacher into having skateboarding as an alternative sport every month, he was into it, he was also into the B52’s, Devo and other new wave music at that time, he rocked. In 1981, my family moved to Australia where I now live, skating was at an all-time low over here and all of the parks sucked, they had a copy of Skatopia over here-West Melton skate park, they called it “New Zealand’s brother park”, it turned out to be unrelated and a bit of a mongrel. This park was so rough, if you did a knee slide it would rip your pads down and leave you bleeding, stinging reminder of your mishap. I won the Victorian (state) title and kept skating and visiting parks all over Australia.
Manly-skate city Canberra-Woden Canberra-Woden
We met Clayton at Melton skate park (after he had just finished throwing a tantrum) told us he was thinking of building a ramp, this was a common talk at this stage because of Thrasher magazine showing loads of parks closing and backyard ramps sprouting up everywhere and everyone talked of building one. Anyway, Clayton calls me 6 months or so later to tell me it’s done. We sessioned the ramp heavily for 6 months, this was a huge stepping stone for all of us that skated there, this ramp was perfect and went through so many changes – extensions, death box, more vert, boneless off the house roof onto the ramp, it was a hot ramp and that’s all we skated because the parks sucked and we had our own scene that ripped-later that year the ramp had to come down because Clayton had to move.
Clayton’s ramp – ’83.
My family and I up and left and went to Nottingham, England, I skated indoors mainly and froze to death skating outside, I competed with Danny Webster, Sean Goff, Danz, Lee Bryan, and so many others and placed third that year in 1984. We came back to Australia and picked up where I had left off. I got sponsored by the Hill brothers who at the time were selling Variflex boards, after a couple of years they offered me a model, I had two models released – a vert and a street model, I won the Australian title twice in the ’80s, once at Moomba and the second time during the Ramp Riot. The money from my board sales sent me through school and helped me get my engineering qualification. I split from Variflex and rode for Vision streetwear, then Kwala distribution, then New Deal. I visited the US back and forth from ’89 – ’93, I competed in the US and Europe throughout the early ’90s. Since then I have been skating in Australia, building my skateboard collection, designing skateparks, assisting Councils with skateparks. I won the Australian title a further two times at the old Prahran ramp and the Australasian title once won a bronze medal at the Xtreme games in 1999 (Australia).
Today I assist councils in developing skate parks from concept to completion, I ride for Black Label and Destructo through Kwala distribution, I have a traveling skate museum, I am married to my sweetheart and still get to skate every day, I compete in veteran skate contests these days. In 2001 I returned to the states for the old school skate jam, it was great to catch up with Chris Strople, meet some of my trading buddies and see a hand full of others again and meet some of the skaters I had only seen and idolized in magazines when I was a kid in the ’70s. I got to visit and skate some fun parks and go skating with Chris, he showed us around his local area and told us adventures about draining pools, finding pools, we’d be driving and he’d be telling us about a session he had in a particular pool and then he would tell us to look over a fence and there was the exact pool he was telling us about, it was a great adventure for us. He told us that he would session pools by himself because if he told anyone, other skaters would come and he wouldn’t be able to skate them anymore, he was one to never seek coverage, he was just out for the adventure.
Switch stance slob air, still digging it in 2003. Method.