From ridicule to Rivers­dale

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - ILLYA MCLELLAN

‘‘It was our fa­ther who de­fied the doubters to make it hap­pen.’’

Basil Bo­dle was writ­ten off as crazy for his de­sire to turn Rivers­dale Beach into a re­sort area on the Wairarapa coast.

His ini­tial vi­sion, when he started in 1954, was ridiculed and he was even called a lu­natic by some.

But when the project fi­nally gained trac­tion there was no short­age of peo­ple try­ing to lay claim to be­ing a part of its es­tab­lish­ment.

Fast for­ward 63 years and Rivers­dale is a busy and much-loved sum­mer­time re­sort town, with an all-year round pop­u­la­tion who see it as more than that.

For decades Bo­dle’s chil­dren have heard peo­ple claim they were be­hind the project.

So Bo­dle’s son Gary and his sis­ter Bar­bara Grif­fith have de­cided to start a web­site that will show pho­tos, hand writ­ten and typed notes and tape record­ings that give clear proof who was be­hind the cre­ation of the sea­side des­ti­na­tion.

The sib­lings have been con­cerned about the dis­tor­tion of the re­sort’s true his­tory.

Gary Bo­dle said he wanted peo­ple to know the real story.

‘‘We’ve heard all sorts of claims over the years, peo­ple say­ing they had a part in the ef­fort to start the place off.

‘‘But it was our fa­ther who de­fied the doubters to make it hap­pen.’’

The farmer who sold him the land was re­lieved to do so be­cause he of­ten said it only car­ried two sheep be­cause it was all sand­hills and no grass.

It is ru­moured he told ac­quain­tances Bo­dle was ‘‘a fool’’ to buy it.

But Bo­dle had spot­ted some­thing that would later be con­firmed by the New Zealand Metser­vice - that Rivers­dale was in fact the most shel­tered area along the Wairarapa coast be­cause it was di­rectly in line with the high­est point on the Tararua Ranges.

He and his fam­ily got to work plant­ing trees, build­ing a golf course, a store and a camp­ing ground.

Fam­ily friends Dave and Betty Pringle were also there at the start help­ing and Bo­dle’s Master­ton Re­liance Tyre & Rub­ber staff helped out early on as well.

Bo­dle also made land avail­able to church groups and for a surf club and Rivers­dale be­gan to flour­ish.

Some of the Bo­dle fam­ily still live in Rivers­dale and those who have left visit at least once a year if not more. Basil Bo­dle died in 1992 but did live to see his vi­sion come to life.

To con­trib­ute to the web­site email bo­dle@mail.co.nz.

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