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Surf beach comes alive with sand sculpture



thumbnail 7 MF-Sandcomp8a-430WORDS & PHOTOS: JULIA WADE

Armed with shovels, buckets, spades and braving a strong easterly wind, adults and children alike eagerly buried their hands deep in local sands recently to create a prize-worthy work of art at the inaugural Mangawhai Sand Sculpture Competition fundraiser.

Mangawhai’s surf beach came alive on March 27 with a range of designs including giant octopuses, a seahorse, Jaws look-a-like, a tuatara, flying dragon, racing car and Tibetan-style tomb, as sand artists vied for cash prizes from $50 to $350 in both the junior and senior categories, and vouchers from local restaurants.

Despite the strong gusts possibly putting some participants off and forcing the cancellation of the bouncy castle, organiser Dennis Emsley says more than 200 people still ventured on to the beach ‘in almost gale force winds’ to watch the sandy artwork unfold and to hear judges, artists Brett Sutherland and Joanna Bagley select prize winners.

With the event raising $450 for Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service, Emsley says he was ‘blown away’ by the community’s overwhelmingly positive response and ‘regardless of the weather everyone I saw on the day seemed to be really enjoying themselves’.

“Highlights of the day for me was a gentleman popping a $50 note into the club's donation bucket even though he wasn’t registering for the competition, he just thought it was a great idea to raise money for the surf club and at the same time, provide a fun filled family day out,” said dennis.

“Another was watching a tiny tot who could barely walk create a picture in the sand with a piece of driftwood. He was smiling and having a whale of a time on a windswept beach… that's why the event was such a success in my eyes, he was too young to talk but his smile told me a thousand words.

“A lot of people have said I should definitely go ahead and organise another one for next year and make it an annual event, so that is what I intend to do.”

The event could not have gone ahead without the support from ‘a whole bunch of people and businesses who helped out in some shape or form’ Emsley says, and he would like to acknowledge and give ‘a big thank you’ to the following: Foodstuffs NI, judges Brett Sutherland and Joanna Bagley, Julia Wade from Mangawhai Focus, Northland Creative, Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Services, Mangawhai Tavern, Dune Restaurant, Wyatt Landscape Supplies, Foster Signs, Maungaturoto

Rotary, Gail Fotheringham (KDC), Mangawhai Vet Centre, Mangawhai ITM (Rob Cook), Leabourn Passenger Services, Heads Radio and MediaWorks, Hellen from Destination Orewa Beach and The REAL Team Real Estate (Wallace & Stratton) Mangawhai ‘and special thanks to my wife Marlene’.

The Mangawhai Sand Sculpture Competition is set to return in 2022 as ‘Sand Art Mangawhai’ or ‘SAM’ due to the ‘original name being a bit of a mouthful’.

Photos: Julia Wade

The Van der Loo family were the winners in the senior division with their octopus.

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A keen crowd gathered at windswept Mangawhai Heads Beach for the first ever sand sculpting competition.

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First in the junior section, local girls Ava Norris, Emma Quinn and sisters Keira and Sophia Hackett with ‘Smiley Octopus’.

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Hunter Gardner and Emily Hawks worked on ‘The Fort’.

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The Vaughan’s work on their version of the iconic tuatara.

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Oscar Rowan received a ‘Highly Commended’ for his ‘Flying Dragon’.

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‘Team V’ received a special shout-out for having the most ferocious creature

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