So Bored They Packed Up

This was the headline in Waihi Today when, back in 1975, it reported on the effects of a good behaviour bond scheme introduced at Waihi Beach camping ground by Roly Green, proprietor at the time.

‘They came out here for a few nights but got so bored they simply packed up and took off again,’ said a local resident.  ‘What these boys want is activity and they won’t find it out here.  It’s just too quiet for them.’

‘The yobs don’t come to Waihi Beach any more’, confides publican Mr Jim Delaney.  It’s too dull for them.  Not that Waihi Beach was ever the sin city of the Bay of Plenty, but this summer about the most exciting thing that happened was the cancellation of the Miss Waihi Beach Junior Belle contest for under seven year olds.

At Mr Delaney’s hotel they’ve almost forgotten what breaking glass sounds like.  ‘We haven’t had a fight for four years,’ says Mr Delaney.  ‘It’s a really quiet family crowd now.’

At the St John’s headquarters on the beach, volunteer Mr T. Wilson, a local farmer, looks at the tiny list of casualties this summer.  Near the top is one case of mild sunburn.

What action there used to be at Waihi Beach centred on a corner of the main campground.  Cut off by a main road from the rest of the campers it was where groups of young men were steered.  Beer bottles closed the small stream running to the beach, and in January 1965 two policemen had to rescue a young man foolish enough to pilfer from a tent occupied by two dozen Huntly miners.

However, a $5 good-behaviour bond scheme put a stop to the undesirable element. ‘Rough’s corner’ is no more.  This summer it’s filled with families in caravans.  The nearest thing to a troublemaker at the camping ground now is someone who ties his tent rope to a tree.

There were mixed reactions amongst parents of the youths on which the bond was imposed.  One parent felt that the bond was disrespectful towards his ability to raise his child – he had already spoken to his son and friends about good behaviour whilst on holiday and felt the bond was an insult.  ‘My son tells me that the camping ground in which he is staying at Waihi Beach placed a $5.00 bond on each of the four boys in the party,  I had hoped that I had ensured that before they left.  I know these boys and would bet on their behavior, and that they would help sooner than hinder in trouble, but it seems they are suspected from the start.’  F.J.A. of One Tree Hill wrote.

Others defended the actions of the proprietor –  ‘Perhaps I can help F.J.A. to appreciate the $5.00 good behaviour bond system at Waihi because I am sure that he is happier knowing that his son is camping in well run surroundings.  He will know that the relaxed but orderly atmosphere of a family holiday motor camp has an irresistible attraction for the youth who likes to “live it up” and “take the joint apart”.  Such a group can very quickly ruin the good name of a camp – which is the owner’s bread and butter, the result of months of work before the season opens, and long hours of toil during the holidays.  Yet it is not always easy to spot these types as they book in.  They do not all arrive on motor bikes, nor do all long haired boys cause trouble.  So the fairest and easiest is to treat all alike.  Mrs M. B. Rowarth of Pakuranga.

Others who don’t seem overjoyed with the ‘new’ family-style Waihi Beach are teenage girls.  A 17-year old from Auckland says ‘The dances aren’t much.  Two dollars is a lot of money to spend to go and make your own fun.’  The girls still parade on the footpaths but young men in Zephyrs issuing verbal invitations are only a memory.

The movie theatre does good business and so do the quick raffles run by the surf club.  And on Sunday there’s the highlight of the summer, the Miss Waihi Beach contest at Pohutukawa Park sound shell, with a sponsor offering $60 first prize and a tasteful eight-foot high replica of a wine bottle for the winner to pose by.

The bond scheme still continues to this day at Waihi Beach Top 10 Holiday Resort.  Many parents and young campers have been comforted over the years to know that their fare home is safely banked and will be available on departure day, no matter how careless the budgeting has been over the holidays.