THREE GENERATIONS OF LIFESAVERS
The Ōtaki Surf Lifesaving Club is family-oriented and its strength and development over the years can largely be attributed to this. We have two families who have produced three generations of qualified lifeguards and, by doing so, epitomize the saying “the family that plays together stays together”.
THE MCFEDRIES FAMILY
Napier McFedries joined the club in 1963 and qualified as a lifeguard in 1965. He was a representative swimmer for Marlborough, Wellington and Manawatu and was the founder of the Ōtaki Swimming Club. With his background in competitive swimming and as a swim coach, he is especially good at preparing candidates for lifeguard examinations. After 47 years he is still coaching members at the pool. Napier was a Western District representative for five years and managed club competition teams for 22 years until 1993 when he became an official, in which capacity he is still involved. Napier is a Life Member of Ōtaki, Western Districts, and New Zealand.
Napier’s wife Lyn joined the club in 1966. Although she was a good swimmer this was before women were allowed to become lifeguards so her activities were restricted to behind the scenes activities. Despite this Lyn was involved in fundraising, team management, and organizing the club’s social activities, including five club re-unions. She played a major role in the rebuilding programme after the clubrooms and most of the equipment was destroyed by fire in 1987. Lyn became secretary of Ōtaki club in 1975 and continues in that role today. Over the past 25 years, she has officiated at District and National championships. Lyn is a Life Member of Ōtaki and Western Districts and has a New Zealand Service and a New Zealand Distinguished Service award.
Naturally, Lyn and Napier’s children were part of the club Juniorsurf scene and Donald became a lifeguard in 1977. Donald was a very good swimmer and developed his skills on board and ski and won a bronze at the Nationals in junior ironman in 1981. Donald was a good patrolman, served on the club committee and served two years as club captain before moving on. Donald has a Western Districts service award.
During his time with the club, he married Pat who followed him into the club and became a qualified lifeguard in 1980 Pat patrolled and competed for the club for several years.
Trena, who qualified in 1980, was a capable swimmer and competed in R&R teams, beach events, and was a good all-rounder in craft events. She decided she wanted to specialize as a ski paddler and trained hard to achieve her goals. Her best results at Nationals were bronze in the women’s ski in 1983 and silver in the women’s board and the women’s ski in 1984. Trena moved to Gisborne to train as a flatwater kayaker with the goal of paddling at the Olympic games. She competed for Waikanae for a few years before getting married and leaving the scene.
Michael McFedries, Donald and Pat’s son, came through Juniorsurf and qualified as a lifeguard in 1993. He became an IRB operator and patrolled Ōtaki beach for a few seasons, as both a volunteer and Regional Lifeguard before moving on to other things.
THE HOUSIAUX FAMILY
John Housiaux was one of the earliest members of the club to qualify as a surf lifesaver, in 1954. John was involved in the club for many years and was well known in Western Districts and throughout New Zealand as a bit of a character. He pioneered IRBs in the club but also produced a forerunner of today’s rescue tubes with a styrofoam buoy attached to a standard surf belt by a few metres of the surf line. Another of his inventions was a sealed wooden box containing the two-way radio that was strapped into the IRB thus facilitating communication back to the beach. John is a Life Member of Ōtaki, and Western Districts, and has a New Zealand Service award. John has lived in Australia for the past twenty years but still visits his family and the club each Christmas.
Next in line comes Peter, John’s son, who joined the club in the early 1970s as swimming was seen as a way to counter his asthma. Peter, aka Fish, became a good swimmer and, after honing his skills on boards and skis, became an ironman who literally put his guts on the line in competition. Peter was part of a junior canoe rescue team that won Ōtaki’s first medal at the nationals – gold in 1977. Over the next ten years, he went on to coach and paddle in two canoe crews which took bronze in 1984 and silver in 1988. Pete has held most positions in the club and is currently the head coach. Like his dad, Peter is a Life Member of Ōtaki, and Western Districts, and has a New Zealand Service award.
It was inevitable that Pete introduced his wife, Ann Marie, into the club to support their kids, Josh and Jordan, who were enrolled in the nippers programme. To better understand surf lifesaving, Ann Marie became a qualified lifeguard in 1998, and she and Peter took over running Ōtaki's Juniorsurf programme. With Peter’s experience as a lifeguard and competitor and Ann Marie’s skill as an administrator, they complemented each other perfectly and they created innovative and exciting ways to attract and retain both kids and parents who thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the team. Over the past ten years, they have successfully led a group of about 20 youngsters through from Juniorsurf to U19 competition where they are today. Ann Marie is currently the club’s publicity officer, maintains the database, and is a respected committee person. Ann Marie has a club Distinguished Service award and Western Districts and New Zealand service awards.
Josh Housiaux qualified as a lifeguard in 2003. He has served as a Patrol Captain and an IRB Operator.
Jordan Housiaux became a lifeguard in 2006. She won titles at the Ocean Athletes Junior surf competitions and in 2007 a silver at the Nationals in women’s double ski. Jordie has served as a Patrol Captain and has her IRB Operator's qualification.