Life is what you make it

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Kevin Grif­fiths

Iwas born in Auck­land, but in my late teens we used to come on road trips up north. Ev­ery year we would go camp­ing at Pine­tree Lodge in Ahipara, and be­came good friends with the Tat­nells, who ran the camp­ground back then. We got on re­ally well with this fam­ily. We would spend our days on ad­ven­tures around the reef, and have a whale of a time all day.

I formed a last­ing re­la­tion­ship with Ahipara, and about 20 years ago we bought our house here. We still go back and forth to Auck­land for work, but spend all our sum­mers up here.

What I love about Ahipara is the beach. I can get out in my Ex­plorer wheel­chair and go down the beach. It’s per­fect when the tide’s out and the sand is hard; there aren’t re­ally many places where you can go like that in a wheel­chair.

In 2006 I helped start the Ahipara Game­fish Club. Ginty Mor­rogh and I were talk­ing about mar­lin fish­ing, and the Houhora com­pe­ti­tions, and that we should start our own club. We asked around and all the hands went up; we re­alised we had quite a few keen guys here. I re­ally en­joy their com­pany.

When you’re out fish­ing, you never know what you are go­ing to catch. It might be a big mon­ster, a dirty old shark or a tro­phy fish. That’s the fun of it. I caught my first mar­lin in 2003, and it was awe­some see­ing the fish weigh in at 91.3 kilo­grams. It was like look­ing at a horse for me back then.

I’ve been fish­ing both here and over­seas. Fish­ing in the North is awe­some. It is rel­a­tively un­touched, and not many peo­ple fish off the west coast. Our tour­na­ments only scratch the sur­face.

I’m go­ing to be spend­ing this sum­mer fish­ing and out on the beach in my Ripchair. I have a lit­tle com­pany that builds the 6X6 Ex­plorer All Ter­rain wheel­chairs, but then I saw a doc­u­men­tary about Howe and Howe tech­nolo­gies, based in Amer­ica. They spe­cialise in mil­i­tary equip­ment, and they started mak­ing spe­cialty wheel­chairs when they saw the vet­er­ans com­ing back from Iraq with am­pu­ta­tions. They de­signed the Ripchair so these guys can get out and have some fun. Now I’ve got one too.

I’m pretty easy go­ing, I go with the flow, and think life is what you make it. I’ve trav­elled the world and done a lot, but I’ve still got a lot more to do. Life has been great to me.

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