Camping ground debacle and its demise. "Without prejudice"

I asked Gary to comment about the following newspaper clippings and photos:

"The beautiful family camping ground which Basil started and his first home at the resort in my opinion was thrown into jeopardy by decisions of the uncompromising Riversdale Beach Ratepayers' Association with the Esplanade Reserve project. Its ironic that in 2018 the Rate Payers Association with others were promoting the idea for a new camping ground, very short memories ? Readers can make make their own conclusions after reading all the newspaper clippings and ask themselves:

  • Did the Association heed warnings of future erosion, water pollution and ongoing expense to the rate payers ?

  • Was the Association fair in its dealing with the families who camped there for years, generation after generation ?

  • Was this project a success ?

  • Was there another motive behind this project ?

  • Who were the main instigators behind this project ?

  • Does this have any thing to do with the "dark cloud of jealousy" Basil used to refer to?

  • If you have anything to add to this page contact Jess Smith

Photo above: Taken in the late fifties this shows the huge amount of sand on the lagoons banks. I asked Gary about the significance of this photo ."In the early 1960's The Wairarapa Catchment Board and the Masterton County Council were worried about the rapid erosion by the public of the lagoon's sandy banks with the growing popularity of the beach and its potential for extreme erosion during winter flooding."

Continued: "The council wanted to erect fences and plant out the whole river bank to stop the public using it . They respectfully approached Basil as he gave the Council the land in the first instance as a contribution to recreation and reserve in the development of the original subdivision. The Council and Catchment board knew the area was surrounded by Basil's camping ground which was perfect to obstruct the public using the river bank. They told Basil any flat land just above the lagoon could be used for camping as long as Basil maintained it." Photo below of the lagoon and the fence going to the waters edge.

The following newspaper clippings below are evidence of the history of the demise of this beautiful family camping ground which set in motion a chain of events. Even though the camp business was only marginally profitable , Gary had been keeping the camp going due to the many families and friends who owned caravan lease sites on a yearly basis. In addition, the store relied on the campers for vital income and many campers purchased houses or sections. Many of these families were third generation. On interviewing Gary, I asked him why this history after Basil's death is relevant to the early history. Gary said, " It is relevant because it was originally Basil's camping ground and our family's first home at the resort and he made an agreement with the Masterton County Council which was undermined by the actions of the Ratepayers' Association in my opinion under questionable motives".

lagoon 1989 1.mp4

The photo above shows Bill Hedley president of the Rate Payers' Association showing a member of the public a display promoting the idea of the Associations controversial Esplanade Reserve. Below are some of the drawings by Brian Bodle included in the promotion of how he imagined the area should look like. Many locals felt that some members of the Association committee had ulterior motives so there seemed to be a need to convince the public of their plan.

Asked about the photo above, Gary said, "'Many at the resort had the opinion the removal of the caravan because it was half meter over reserve boundary was a small minded pin pricking uncompromising example of the Ratepayers Associations mentality of that time . One of the main movers of this controversial project stood just below the removal of the caravan on the bank of the lagoon and yelled out "the caravan is illegal its a half meter over the boundary." Campers yelled back "get a life Brian". It is ironic that people like this can break the law themselves, but point the finger at others quoting all sorts of legislation. Two of the main individuals discrediting the camp were photographed illegally white baiting in the lagoon potentially facing a $7,000.00. fine. The alleged harassment from the Ratepayers Association against the family camp diminished after it was made known there was photographic evidence.

Reading the newspaper clippings and talking to the locals the development of the Esplanade Reserve created many foreseen and predictable problems that the Ratepayers' Association chose to ignore history.

2007 concrete and boulders had to be deposited at great expense (approx $30,000) along the stream's bank to stop new erosion( see e-mail from Masterton District Council ). The underground water became contaminated with salt water due to the protective layer of mud and silt at the bottom of the stream being removed by diggers. The thick pan of mud acted as a barrier between the underground aquifer and the sea water.

The walking bridge foundations were eroded and needed reinforcing . The stream is still polluted, ongoing costs have been enormous. Locals have compared the drawings against reality and many feel think it is a failure at exorbitant cost to the ratepayers.

Continued: " The alleged interfering from the Ratepayers' Association was nothing new, there seemed to be in my opinion an orchestrated effort to cause problems for the family camping ground. This is evidenced by the letters the Masterton Council has on record, letters written from the Association and committee members . One committee member even used her maiden name when making a complaint against the family camp, perhaps the motive not to implicate the Association. These complaints ranged from using logs for retaining walls, to using iron standards for fencing. The Council's officer stressed at the time, he was sick of the Associations feeble complaints and none had substance on his inspection. The feeble complaint regarding the iron standards otherwise known as waratahs was used by some campers to keep the public out. The complaint by the Ratepayers' Association or a committee member was that if someone got out control on a quad bike whilst turning the store corner they could impale themselves on one of these iron standards. Photos below show shrubs planted by the Ratepayers' Association, note the waratahs ,metal standards holding the wire netting less than fifty meters from their area of complaint. A real double standard, which begs the question of what was the motive behind this alleged harassment . "

I asked Gary about the significance of this sign (Photo above) and how it pertains to Basil.

"As one can read in the newspaper clips, the family camp was put into a difficult financial position by the actions of the Ratepayers' Association which put my family under a lot of pressure and anxiety. I had to ask myself what would Basil do under similar circumstances and the answer was clear. He would use the uncompromising and questionable attack of the Ratepayers' Association to advertise and enhance a subdivision of the camping ground with the largest sign one could erect at the entrance of the beach. "

Rosanne Heyes

Hi Gary,

Please find attached some photos I have dug out that I am hoping relates to the erosion work you referred to on the Motuwireka stream in 2007. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an after shot. A resource consent was issued from Greater Wellington Regional Council to undertake the work as the area falls into the Coastal Marine Area, protected under the Regional Plan. Details of the work are as follows:

Stabilisation of eroding river bank using a combination of rock and boulder rip-rap, together with planting in native trees and flax to minimise the erosion potential and enhance the aesthetics and biodiversity of the area. The river bank, opposite the stabilization works, is to be trimmed back to enhance the existing channel capacity.

We also received a letter of thanks from Mark Donaldson in 2007 in regards to the progress made with the work.

This planting season we will be doing further planting in the northern reserve, using coastal native plants.

Please let me know if you require further info.


Rosanne Heyes

Senior Parks and Reserves Advisor

Masterton District Council

I Asked Gary if he thought the Esplanade Reserve development a success or failure

"Evidence with photos of erosion, water hazard sign, polluting underground fresh water with salt water, extra cost of reinforcing the streams banks with boulders and concrete , reinforcing the foundations of the bridge, demise of the family camp. All the huge extra costs, the answer is obvious."

I asked Gary to comment about the Newspaper cutting below his reply, "Ironic, but it is evidential history."

Photos below before & after were posted recently (2018) criticizing the Masterton Council by Paul Bodle one of Basil's grandsons , Brian Bodle's son who according to Newspaper clippings strongly supported the Rate Payers Association in the development of the Esplanade Reserve. Its ironic that Paul is quoted in the Wairarapa Times Age headed " Camping plans for Riversdale"


Perhaps timely to reinforce Basil's own words " the "Credit Thieves" will stand in my shadow long after I have gone and some of those will be your relatives using my name and achievements for their own glory & recognition".

Photos below of the area when used for family camping and before the then Ratepayers Association headed by Bill Hedley and supported by Brian and his son Paul Bodle to promote the development of the alleged failed costly esplanade reserve.

Four photos above: Gary;s comments"

"The camp as Basil organised it for the pleasure of the many hundreds of families year after year before the Rate Payers Association headed by Bill Hedley started a chain reaction which in my opinion contributed to the closure of the camp. Photos should read " shame on you Rate Payers Association."

It becomes obvious that a small nit community such as Riversdale Beach can stone wall the truth in the fear of upsetting the status quo and upsetting someone in their community who has some so called social standing, but my one on one interviewing with locals as I experienced, the real history is exposed.

Three small clip below taken of the camping ground in 1989 long before its demise.