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The district of Muriwai was formed 17 million years ago when volcano 1000 metres below the ocean surface started to form an island, which now forms the Waitakere Ranges to the south of the beach.

When the ocean returned to its present level 6,500 years ago, the black Holocene sand dunes were formed by material carried north from Mt Taranaki by prevailing sea currents. Until the 1930’s the area behind the beach was mostly bare moving sand dunes 4-6 km wide. The pine forest, planted firstly as a government stabilation program, and after the Second World War as a commercial logging operation, continues to be harvested in a 15-20 year cycle.

The area is a natural home to a wide range of wild life including the New Zealand Fur Seal colony on Oaia Island and at the creek north of the patrolled swimming area, a nesting for the endangered Doteral, the little Blue Penguin nests at Maori Bay while on Otakamiro point an ever expanding colony of Australian Gannets are in residents from August to February each year.

The name Muriwai was not widely used until the 1920’s and means back water or lagoon and was traditionally applied to the lower portion of the Muriwai stream behind the lodge and the Top Shop. Prior to that time the beach between Papakanui Spit at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbor in the north to Toaraerae (Flat Rock) some 40km south was known as Te One Rangatira (The Chiefly Beach), Up until the 1920’s the area was known as Motutara which means ‘Island of sea Birds’.

The first people to occupy the area were the ‘Turehu’ "those who arose from the earth". Small groups of Maori occupied pa (fortified village) sites on the point and on the hill north of the stream. Occupation is evident with middens and earth works at campsite in Maori Bay.

Europeans first visited the area in 1820 when Samuel Marsden an early Missionary recorded the black sand hills.

The first European settlers arrived in the area in the 1870 and 1880’s with the first store was opened in 1888.

The area became a popular holiday retreat in the summer months with up to 120 people camping on the land behind the beach which the park now occupies.

This holiday population grew and created a need for life saving services.

For a brief period in 1939 a club was affiliated to the Auckland Surf lifesaving association but went in to recess almost as soon as it started due to the Second World War.

During the war the park was use by the US armed forces as a recreational area.

A series of near tragedies in 1947 at Muriwai Beach in the post war years the Motutara (Muriwai Beach) Domain Board held several public meetings in order to raise sufficient interest to form a life saving club The story has it that five fishermen were up the beach netting when one of the five got into difficulties in the surf. If it hadn’t been for the fact that they had a horse with them, which they used to help effect the rescue, lives would have been lost. That was when the nucleus of what would become the club realized they needed to learn proper techniques for surf rescue.

At first negotiations were made with the Waitemata Surf Life Saving Club to assist Muriwai, but when these arrangements fell through, it was decided to attempt to form a club from with in the district.

On July 30th 1948 under the leadership of George Hilton the Muriwai beach Surf Life Saving Club was formed with 19 foundation members. (A picture of this group of active members is in the trophy cabinet in the club).

A recruiting drive saw the membership stabilize and the new club was in business.

The first years were difficult and accommodation was the biggest issue to be faced by the new club. Help in these early years for club came from many quarters and enthusiasts like Piha’s Don Wright brought skills to the new club.

On March the 1st 1953 the first club house was opened; with all the pomp and ceremony of a country fête with the Kumeu band lead the festivities.

The club house was built from timber donated from the local farming community. The club house marked a turning point in the clubs history encouraged by the accommodation young men from Auckland and the western suburbs started to join swelling the ranks both for patrolling and competition.

The first titles the club won at national championships were in the beach relay in Dunedin in 1954 this was followed by an ever increasing tempo with the senior 6man team winning the Speedo Shield in the face of the mighty R&R clubs of the East coast.

In August 1956 it was decided to purchase an Australian surf boat which started a tradition that has come through to the present day.


Check out all past photos of the club and its people.

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