Evelyn Dalzell holds up a photo of herself as a young girl at the Tahunanui Beach Kiwi Holiday Park and Motel, after winning the Collective Memories ‘Best Story’ competition on Friday night. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Stories of arguments, beer bottles and family

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Prime Minister Bill English spent his honeymoon there and Nick Smith sank a canoe in the pond during the children’s programme, but Evelyn Dalzell’s memories of family holidays, arguments and beer bottles topped them all.

On Friday, the Tahunanui Beach Kiwi Holiday Park and Motel celebrated its 90th birthday, hosting a party and several competitions to mark the milestone.

Originally from the West Coast, Nelson woman Evelyn Dalzell took out the ‘Best Story’ competition after writing down tales of travelling up to Tahunanui for a month-long family holiday each summer.

Enitled ‘The Annual Holiday Argument’, Evelyn’s story begins in the 1940s with her and her younger brother Robert lying in bed listening to their parents argue about what to pack into the trailer.

“There was never enough room to put everything in the trailer so Dad would always say, ‘Jesus bloody Christ, Ag, where am I going to put that?’,” says Evelyn.

“We’d leave a couple of things behind on his insistence and, of course, we needed them as soon as we arrived. Dad never lived it down, we always had three or four of the same thing at home because Mum had to go out to Nelson and buy more after Dad insisted we leave it at home.”

Evelyn says her family stayed at the same campsite every year, along with many other families who became life-long friends.

“It was the highlight of our year because we’d met people the year before and half of our street came back each year so we’d gather together and go swimming, fishing, and head up the Aniseed Valley together.”

Evelyn and her younger brother Robert, far right, with two other campers, stand by the trailer full of beer bottles. Photo Supplied.
Evelyn and her younger brother Robert, far right, with two other campers, stand by the trailer full of beer bottles. Photo: Supplied.

Evelyn also remembers scampering around the holiday park like mice with her brother at first light, collecting all the bottles from the previous night’s drinking sessions and stacking them into the trailer to earn pocket money.

“When the trailer was full Dad would take them to where you sell bottles and cash them in. We got one penny for the beer bottles and I think it was threepence or sixpence for the soft drink bottles. My brother to this day insists that he did the work and I got most of the money.”

With its running gags, funny moments and the honesty of a child’s perspective, Evelyn says she loved writing the story for the Collective Memories Competition.

“I could’ve kept writing for a week, there are so many good memories here and seeing all the kids playing around the holiday park, I can’t help thinking that it’s the best place to spend your childhood.”

Tahunanui Beach Kiwi Holiday Park and Motel general manager, Marcel Fekkes, says Evelyn’s story is just one of many submitted to the competition and he has loved discovering all the different memories that have come out.

“Ninety years is pretty impressive when you look at all the people who have stayed with us over that time and we were overwhelmed by all the great stories and photographs people submitted.

“Now we’re just looking forward to making it to 100 years and all the changes that will come in the next ten years.”

To read Evelyn’s story or view other entries, visit www.collectiveholidaymemories.nz