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History of Orienteering in NZ

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 20 October 2012, 11:52 AM  
Hi All, I've been going through the old records of NOC and have found a letter from Ralph King dated 5 Aug 1992. It is regarding the origins of the sport in New Zealand and is concerned with the period up to the mid-70s. One of the most interesting points in the letter is that this year is the 70th anniversary of the holding of an orienteering event in NZ. The first that Ralph reported was held by the Otago University Tramping Club on a 1:63,666 topo map with Silva Compasses. Later that year Jim Bellwood transferred from Dunedin to Mt Roskill Grammar School and started teaching orienteering as part of this physical education classes. The first significant event was held in 19534 at Queens Birthday for the Lynndale Harrier Club at Kumeu and attracted more than a hundred participants. The letter includes a 1972 Woodhill forest map. amd a course on Woodhill from 1973. Not sure if a version exists elsewhere but I'll send it on to Stuart Payne for safe-keeping.

Cheers, Michael.

Show Profile  valerie Posted: 22 October 2012, 10:23 AM  
I know one of the first ever NZ Reps for Orienteering lives somewhere in Auckland. His name is Beau someone and can find contact details for you if you want? I worked with his nephew. He was in the first team to go to Aussie I believe? Just let me know if you want to contact him....he is quite a character.

Show Profile  theoman Posted: 22 October 2012, 9:44 PM  
I was reading through Rob Gardens NZOF magazines the other day, so much history in those magazines. If only we had a means of reinvigorating these artices (like the one michael spoke of)....Maybe we could also combine these 'blasts from the past' with coaching techniques, how to's on sport ident, ocad e.t.c and reports from events (from the organisers perspective, something we dont see too much of).

If only we could increase communication of all forms of orienteering between and within clubs in NZ through a regular, well organised, well documented collection of thoughts and ideas...maybe a magazine of sorts.

Imagine increasing the visibility of NZOF in the orienteering communities; selection notices, events would all be clearly outlined in this magazine of sorts...

Show Profile  SteveO Posted: 23 October 2012, 7:43 AM  
Scanned copies of all Auckland (previously Central) Orienteering Club's magazines dating back to January 1978 are available on the AOC website or directly at:

Students of the history of Orienteering in New Zealand would be particularly interested in the article by Tony Nicholls in the August / September 1983 edition. Tony and Ralph were both extremely important to the development of Orienteering in Auckland and I suspect that both were speaking from personal memory and conversations with the people mentioned in their respective articles.

It isn't surprising to see that there are some inconsistencies between the two accounts. Tony credits Jim Bellwood with introducing the sport in 1947; places the Otago event (organised by a "Mr Munro") in 1950 and has Bellwood at Avondale College rather than Mt Roskill Grammar (at the time; it appears he moved to Mt Roskill later). He also recalls the Lynndale event at Kumeu as being Easter 1954 (using Woolworths compasses) but mentions that they ran regular orienteering events at Queens Birthday for years afterwards.

There is more information available in the article including news of a fatality during an event (hopefully the only instance of this in NZ orienteering history) and the date of the first "modern" orienteering event at Hobsonville - 42 years to the day before the OY run there last year.

Show Profile  hughff Posted: 23 October 2012, 2:39 PM  
Some really interesting stuff in your archives, Steve. What I like is the mixture of hand written and typed copy in some of the early newsletters - no doubt reproduced on a Banda (ahh, the smell of fresh spirit, the purple ink on your fingers...)

David Fisher and other club members have archived the HBOC equivilent here
for those interested.

Thanks for starting this discussion Michael. FOr a noob like me it makes fascinating reading.

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 23 October 2012, 3:09 PM  
I am aiming to start the archiving of the Top of the South Orienteering Clubs Newsletters soon (later combined MOC and NOC newsletter). We are just relative babies having started in 1991. Editions are from 1991 to 2005. NOC has recently resurrected a monthly 2 page news-sheet.

It would be nice to get the NZ Orienteering mag archived at some point in digital format. I have one edition with a rather handsome young man, if I may say so myself, on the front from 1994.

Show Profile  JD Junior Posted: 23 October 2012, 3:24 PM  
Hi Michael, My parents still have old photos of teams sent to Australia, maps etc dating from around 1973. They were intimately involved with the development of O'ing here once they had come back from Canada in 1972, having worked closely with Ralph, Gordon Pirie and the like to make some maps and hold some events. They'd be happy to talk about it if you want their number?
PAPO also has a document entitled "The first 30 years" written by Stuart Payne which was written for our 30th anniversary some years ago.

Show Profile  Bryan Posted: 24 October 2012, 7:48 AM  
I'd like to get scanned or colour photocopies of any old maps (to include in the NZOF archives of maps). Who do I contact? See my email details on the
website under Directory of Officers > Statistician.

Show Profile  SteveO Posted: 24 October 2012, 9:28 AM  
Coincidence of the day: as soon as we start discussing the history of Orienteering in New Zealand and mentioning names like Jim Bellwood, the NZ Herald sees fit to publish an in-depth article on - Jim Bellwood. OK, the article is actually about Yvette Corlett (Williams) but Bellwood is a big part of that story and even rates a photo (print edition only; the online picture has cropped him out).

There is lots of interesting information about Bellwood including the fact that he had an Estonian wife (was Estonia close enough to Scandanavia culturally to be active in orienteering in the 1940s?) and that he spent three years as a POW in Greece during WW2, returning to Dunedin after the war via Loughborough University. This chronology would appear to be closer to the dates in Tony's account rather than those that Ralph mentions.

Show Profile  SteveO Posted: 24 October 2012, 9:40 AM  
Ah, the wonders of Google Images. The full (uncropped) photo is available from the ODT at:

Jim Bellwood is the coach watching in the bottom left, not the athlete jumping off the sand dune, obviously.

Show Profile  Rolf Posted: 24 October 2012, 12:05 PM  
hughff, whats a noob? and why are you one? and does your wife know?

Show Profile  Jane H Posted: 24 October 2012, 4:40 PM  
Noob ... text for Newbie. Even Jim Bellwood must have been one once but it may never have occurred to him to call himself one.

Show Profile  JohnR Posted: 2 November 2012, 8:31 PM  
I ran in the Lynndale event in 1955 when I was a member of the owairaka harrier club. I recall a big shed probably a wool shed and card board marker nailed to a corner. The top had a number and instructions below read nnw 275 paces.My next orienteering event was 1973 on the woodhill map. I set the Auckland champs on the same map in 1976. Won by Barry Shuker
Val remembers Jim Bellwood teaching orienteering at training college in 1958
This would make an interesting study for some young person

Show Profile  unni Posted: 3 November 2012, 6:09 PM  
I have maps and NZ Herald articles from 1971 plus photos my father Sverre Moen took in the early days of orienteering. I first went to Woodhill in October 1971.I think the first event was about mid year 1971. I have been meaning to sort out this data but I am reluctant to pass it on as I would hate the information to go missing. But with copying becoming cheaper i may be able to copy it for the NZOF.

Show Profile  Bryan Posted: 5 November 2012, 5:46 AM  
That sounds great Unni - the NZOF would like any copies or
scans of what you have - and I'll keep it with the rest
of the NZOF archives as Statistician.

Show Profile  valerie Posted: 15 November 2012, 11:33 AM  
I have found out who the man was and he was captain of the NZ side to travel to Australia( I think one of the first times too) his name is Beau Doherty and he lives in Auckland. Can find out more if anyone is interested?

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