One of the strengths of our local Papamoa Surf community is that the people involved are focused on giving back, whether that means getting involved in charitable work, organizing the regular beach clean ups or constantly giving up their free time to support the local surf lifesaving or Grom Surf Clubs. They do this consistently with a smile on their face and a no worries attitude.
This is why it was an absolute must for Barrett Homes to give back to this community by taking the opportunity to host the Up Close and Personal Event with Joel ‘Parko’ Parkinson.
Parko was joined by surfing personality, journalist and commentator Ronnie Blakey.
The event kicked off at 11am on Saturday morning, with a nervous yet very excited bunch local groms, about to get the chance to spend the next couple of hours with Parko and Ronnie. They started with what was scheduled to be a five-minute talk and some quick questions and answers. Initially the kids were shy, and too star struck to ask any questions of the guests and it looked like the talk would end quickly. However, Parko and Ronnie turned it on, and the talk ended up being an inspirational 45-minute address with the groms hanging on to every word they said! They shared some amazing and profound insights about their experiences coming up through the competitive surf environment and the importance of living the surf lifestyle.
Their messages focused on what it meant to be resilient in the face of setbacks, to be a good person and competitor and to keep growing and learning throughout life. Parko shared some gritty and in-depth personal experiences that hit home with the 23 groms aged between 9 and 15 years of age. Even the parents who were listening took some inspiration from their talk and appreciated the sincerity and realism.
Following the chat, the kids (and some lucky parents) got to share a wave with Parko and Ronnie. While the surf wasn’t pumping there were a hell of a lot of smiles and laughter. Parko gave the groms some hints, tips and tricks and Ronnie provided the banter!
After the surf the kids got to share a lunch with the lads, shake their hands, get a photo and take home a signed t-shirt each. They showed their appreciation with a haka, lead by our very own Phil O’Reilly, which went down a treat with our legendary guests.
Then it was time for more food and quiet beers at the Barrett bach! Parko and Ronnie were treated to some of NZ’s finest cuisine. Fresh crayfish, mussels and whitebait had been gathered by the Barrett kaimoana collecting crew and then prepared and cooked to perfection by Jeremy Fritchley and his helpers, Tanieka, Lana, Katy, Laura and Rumble. Parko even helped with the prep of the whitebait fritters, which were sensational when paired with the Pap Tav Easy Lager that was bought down by Jimmy and Sammy.
The weather and scenery were near perfect, the beer was going down like the nectar of the gods and the conversation flowed for hours.
NZ’s own surfing legend Maz Quinn popped in to say kia ora to his mate Parko and joined in on the days activities.
After a quick stop for more refreshments at the Pap Tav with some the crew, Parko and Ronnie made their way to the Trust Power Arena for an evening of storytelling, good hearted banter and in-depth surf talk.
Parko and Ronnie were magic with the crowd and managed to make everyone feel as if they were chatting to them personally with sharp witted humour and some interesting insights into what goes on behind the scenes.
Messages about men’s mental health were weaved into the thread of conversation as well as themes of being great parents and examples for the next generation. They kept everyone hooked for the whole time they were on stage, which is a real skill when its just the two of them talking for the majority of the time.
Getting Maz, Mike and Phil up on stage did help with the comedic content as did the Q&A’s hosted by the irrepressible Jo Holley, who also did an amazing job of MC’ing the evening.
A big thank you has to go to Heath Ingham from Events Innovated for bringing the event to life. His tireless work behinds the scenes were a testament to the professionalism and tenacity it takes to be a successful events organiser.
Another thank you goes to Jereme Aubertin for his tireless work, capturing the tone of the day in his photos and video footage. And to Mitch and Nathan, thankyou for all your work throughout the day and the surf patrol while the kids were in the water. Lastly to Tom from Hakanini Surf school & Rentals for putting up the boards for the day.
The real MVP on the day was Parko. He showed us what a true champion is. His humility and honesty were evident and his natural and easy sense of humour shone! The chemistry between himself and Ronnie made for one of the most entertaining nights you can have and the whole crowd were left wanting more. The show could have easily gone for a couple of more hours. However, the guests were running to a schedule beyond our control and we did have to let them go to catch flights back to their motherland!
To everyone involved, whether you helped out behind the scenes or came along as a guest, we sincerely thank you, and we look forward to doing it again.