Waitemata Club Rugby History

The real beginnings of the Waitemata Rugby Football Club go back more than 100 years to 1888 or thereabouts, when the first known Henderson Rugby team took the field against a team from a visiting ship.

Interdistrict competition began shortly after this and thrived on seeing new clubs established at Oratia, Hobsonville, Waimauku and Swanson until 1926, when the need to participate within the Auckland Rugby Union competition was recognised. In March 1927, a meeting of the Western clubs, except for Oratia, decided to amalgamate and form a new club called Waitemata. Colours adopted were those of Henderson - a black jersey with two hoops of red and green and black shorts. This design was subsequently changed in 1949 by deleting the broad bands and creating the pattern which exists today.

In its first season, Waitemata fielded teams in the Auckland Senior B competition and three junior grades and jointly with Penrose, won the third-grade open grade championship.

During these early years, the home ground was Henderson Domain where, due to the lack of facilities, players used to wash in the nearby Opanuku stream after the game. The war years almost saw the club in recess, but one third grade team was maintained to keep the name of the club alive.

After the war, a vigorous committee and a great deal of hard work and toil by club members, raised sufficient funds to purchase a paddock in Henderson and in 1947, Waitemata's first ground, Smythe Park named after the previous owner was officially opened. The first game on the park was a Senior B match between Suburbs and Waitemata, won by Suburbs.

Smythe Park was home until 1951 when encroaching industrial development prompted the club to seek and purchase Waitemata Park, a magnificent 17-acre site formerly owned by Mr FC Platt senior. Smythe Park was sold for a considerable sum of £8,500 - although play continued on that ground until two years later. With the sale of roadway sections for housing, the club owned Waitemata Park debt-free and embarked on a major fundraising project to place first-class training and social facilities on the ground.

In 1955 Waitemata won promotion to Senior A for the first time and three years later made history by winning the Gallaher Shield. 1958 also saw the selection of the club's first All Black, Adrian Clarke. In 1962 and 1975, the club again won the Gallaher Shield along with the Alan McEvoy Trophy, and the team enjoyed an unbeaten record in 1962.

On 19 June 1962, the president of the Auckland Rugby Union, Mr M.N. Corner, declared the Waitemata Club Rooms open.

In 1968, the club's grandstand was opened, and the club continued to make fundraising a priority to extend the clubrooms to cater for an increasing number of members.

The culmination of  hard work by dedicated rugby enthusiasts came on 7 October 1973, when the president of the New Zealand Rugby Union, Mr L. Byers, declared the new facilities open.

In 1981, a fire damaged the clubrooms, but undaunted, the club not only restored the rooms but made improvements to its facilities which are today among the best available for social gatherings. It's not surprising that training and playing facilities have received the same determined and successful effort to install the very best of player facilities.

Night training lighting had been installed over the years, but it was a dream of the club to install lighting on its number one ground. With the same sort of vigorous enterprise, Waitemata Rugby Club members and committee set out on a crash program to install full night lighting, and this was achieved in 1985. The project has been financed by loans from the Auckland Rugby Union and the Western Community Foundation, together with a substantial amount of funds raised by the Club.