Midwinter dipping for 20 years
The person checking the tides has a huge responsibility. Plimmerton Midwinter Dip, organised each year as a fundraiser for the suburb’s kindergarten, hits the 20-year milestone on June 12.
One of the organisers for this year’s event, Michelle Sharp, recalls the 2013 dip. There was a huge storm in the preceding days and the dip was also affected by a big spring tide.
‘‘That was unfortunate,’’ she said. ‘‘The water was very close in, and that made life tough. It went ahead, but it’s fair to say the person checking the tides has a lot of responsibility. No-one could’ve predicted how high the water would get that day.’’
Mandy Hewett was one of the organisers in 1996, of the first dip.
She said the ‘‘usual fundraising talk’’ was occurring, including bake sales, sausage sizzles and selling chocolate.
‘‘I suggested a sponsored swim – I was trying to think of something a bit different,’’ she said. ‘‘The idea grew, but it had to be something safe for the kids and inviting for the public.’’
The Plimmerton Midwinter Dip was born and was wellattended right from the start, Hewett said. She said ‘‘a few hundred dollars’’ was collected from hardy souls who tore into the water and back out again 20 years ago.
The weather was good for the first dip and coffee from Caffe L’affare and hot soup were wellreceived.
Hewett said there were kayaks in the water in case anything went awry for the hardy dippers.
The kindergarten had had brilliant sponsors and fantastic community support from day one, Hewett said.
‘‘I remember [in 1996] just rattling the ice-cream containers to collect money and they were full. It was a great feeling to have people in Plimmerton, and further afield too, behind us from the word go.’’
Hewett said a midwinter dip was organised in the early 2000s at Raumati but, despite the presence of All Black Christian Cullen, it had nowhere near the success of Plimmerton’s.
She said the most famous face to attend in Plimmerton was All Black Pita Alatini one year, while local celebrities, such as mayors and MPs, had been supportive.
Hewett said the media interest had helped, but the event was now firmly fixed on the calendar in Porirua’s northern suburbs.
Since 2005, only once has heavy rain ruined it, though the storm and big tide in 2013 put a literal dampener on proceedings and cut into the fundraising.
Money raised has climbed steadily since 1996, to the point where a new playground last year and proposed bathroom upgrade this year can be paid for.
‘‘It’s our main fundraiser, but it’s got bigger than the kindergarten,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘This is something people mark down on the calendar and look forward to.’’
Dressing up and the slew of activities at Karehana Bay each June for the dip have evolved over time.
Firefighters in full gear, ballet dancers, old-style swimming costumes, and many children in dress-up make the event a colourful one.
Hewett and Sharp said a small band of dedicated kindergarten committee members made it work, getting the word out, organising raffles, treasure hunts, food and drink, and touching base with sponsors.
There’s only one way to get into the water – fast – as these hardy souls did in 2011. Photo: KRIS DANDO