Polo club looks forward to New Year

Nine months after the worst floods in a generation, members at the Auckland Polo Club (APC) in Clevedon are finally about to close a chapter on an event which wreaked havoc on the clubhouse and the main ground.

Its first function at the renovated clubhouse in the form of the club’s prizegiving on Friday brought a good measure of closure to the devastation wrought by flooding on March 7. The incident cut parts of the region off for days and caused widespread damage.

Today, the club house — which had silted floodwater half way up the walls — looks pristine following an extensive makeover. However countless washes have failed to eliminate a fine dried silt dust inside in nooks and crannies. An aerial photo from the day shows just the clubroom roof and top field visible in the floods.

APC manager and NZ Polo Open event director Hannah Marshall recalls the chaos vividly. “At 6pm the water was still shin high — it just wasn’t draining away. We had puddles for days,” she said.

“It was overwhelming, it was crazy, it was like living in another world.

“The whole village was flooded and no-one knew what to do. I don’t think people quite appreciated the extent of the flood.”

Marshall said apart from a small break over winter, work has been non-stop to repair not only the clubhouse but the grounds as well. The floodwaters caused substantial damage to the fields.

The club has missed around four weeks of use, helped extensively through the use of their other fields and private polo fields in the area. The main ground, Fisher Field, will be ready for the upcoming premier polo event of the club.

“It’s taken this long to get it (the clubrooms) back to this state. There was no structural damage but we’ve had to replace the bar, one internal room, the whole of the ladies bathroom, the kitchen and some wall lining.

“We’ve also had to replace all outdoor furniture.”

The club is now focused on several major annual events early next year. The charity day for Clevedon Fire Brigade — the Tiger Building Family Charity Polo Day to date has raised $40,000 in total and Marshall hopes to push that up another $10,000 this year. The event is on January 21.