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Sand sculpture comp could grow to become annual event



thumbnail Dennis Emsley copy-440JULIA WADE

Local sands will also become an art medium for a new charitable event coming soon, with the inaugural ‘Mangawhai Sand Sculpture Competition’ scheduled to take place on the scenic canvas along Mangawhai Heads surf beach, March 27.

Beginners and experienced sculptors will have two hours to mould a sandy creation, with both classes up for winning cash prizes. With the event having all the ingredients for a family fun day out with bouncy castles, sausage sizzle, ice cream, refreshments and with the gold coin registration fee donated to Mangawhai Surf Life Saving Club, organiser Dennis Emsley says there is hope the competition could become an annual event similar to Orewa’s Sand Castle Competition.

“I came up with the idea of a sand sculpture competition before I was aware of the one in Orewa, which has been running now for six years and growing so much and become so popular, that they now need to limit the number of entries,” Emsley, a real estate agent says. “Hellen Wilkins from Destination Orewa Beach Business Association has been extremely helpful in providing a great deal of information on how they run their competition, so I decided not to reinvent the wheel and to use their template for the Mangawhai competition.”

Following the template however, has not always been a ‘piece of cake’ Emsley says, especially regarding the three sand sculptors Orewa organisers import from Christchurch’s Brighton Beach, ‘at great expense’, to create a publicity sculpture a week before the event.

“This is their main drawcard as it attracts a great deal of attention,” he says. “I have tried for the past three months looking from Tauranga to Whangarei to find a sand sculptor without any success. Second problem was funding to pay for a sculptor, so I applied for a grant from the Northland Arts Council, who also looked for a sculptor, and received $500. However, I cannot find one who has the time or is willing to travel here to do the job.”

Further issues of sourcing signage and a funder of the sand to be professionally sculpted has proved difficult, ‘but without a sculptor there is now no point’.

Both Northland Regional Council (NRC) and Kaipara District Council (KDC) are supportive of the event, with Emsley meeting with KDC community and recreation advisor Gail Fotheringham, ‘she’s been a great help too’.

“It has been suggested that we do away with a publicity sculpture altogether and have a small one on the beach prior to the event, which would not necessarily require a skilled sculptor but someone with an artistic flair,” Emsley says. “I’ve contacted the local artists group, but to date no one has come forward.”

With the Orewa competition benefiting the local economy, bringing ‘thousands of dollars’ into the town’s businesses in just one day, Emsley, who moved permanently to Mangawhai with wife Marlene last October, thought the event could potentially do the same for his new home town. However, enthusiasm and support has not been so forthcoming he says.

“Prior to Christmas I contacted and joined the Mangawhai Business Association as I thought they would be interested in supporting the comp, but they said as they’re already committed to a number of events in 2021 they don't think they could help. However, we could discuss it at a meeting in February.”

Currently, the couple’s real estate business, The REAL Team Real Estate Mangawhai, is sponsoring the event with support from Northland Arts Council and KDC, and although he says organising the sand sculpture competition has ‘not been clear cut’, Emsley is confident once the Orewa template is in place it will only require the management of two people.

“If anyone feels they could create a publicity sculpture to help promote the event a few days beforehand so that some advertising can be done in terms of the local newspaper and radio, please contact me,” he says. “I am determined to get the sand sculpture competition off the ground even if it's on a very small scale in year one, and that is how I am proceeding at present.”

n Interested in supporting or helping out with this local event? Please contact Dennis Emsley 021 0808 7933. Join in the fun and help support the Mangawhai Surf Life Saving Club by registering on the day, March 27 between 10am and 12 noon with sand creations starting at 1pm till 3pm.


Mangawhai Sand Sculpture Competition organiser Dennis Emsley has been working hard to find support for the event.


“I am determined to get the sand sculpture competition off the ground even if it's on a very small scale in year one.”

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