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:

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". 

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.