Terry Brunell was one of the region’s top skateboarders who used to frequent Buxton Square where he helped build and transport a ramp. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Memories of skateboarding glory


Terry Brunell doesn’t remember the day he lost his sense of smell.

One minute he was bombing down the Nelson Hospital carpark, the next it was three days later and Terry was in a hospital bed. He couldn’t smell anything.

“People told me I just fell off.”

It wasn’t the first time that had happened.

Terry was part of a vanguard of local Nelson skateboarders who took to the sport in the late 1970s.

A photo of Terry taken by his mate Robert Edmondson recently sparked Terry’s memory about the time in his life where he was a local skating hero.

Terry Brunell skateboarding in Buxton Square. Circa 1970s. Photo: Robert Edmondson.
Terry Brunell skateboarding in Buxton Square. Circa 1970s. Photo: Robert Edmondson.

“This day and age they can do things where they stay on,” Terry says. “I wasn’t quite at that stage.”

But he was. He and another skater won the Nelson championships in the late 70s and went up to Auckland to compete at the nationals.

The location was the newly-built “Skatopia”, which featured the best skatepark in the country. But it was demolished and built over by theme park Rainbow’s End.

Terry says he was always into sport.

He represented Nelson in softball and played national league soccer for a decade.

“I was never a good swimmer though, so I never got into surfing. Skateboarding seemed like the next best thing.”

Terry and his mates on Thompson Terrace in Toi Toi would build ramps up there and one time rolled it down the street towards Buxton Carpark.

“We were worried it would get away from us.”

They braced it against the toilet block and went about challenging each other to see who could do the most impressive trick.

He also used to bomb down some of Nelson’s notorious hills – the hospital carpark being one of them. Another time he was heading down Tresillian Ave in Atawhai.

“It was a hot day so I took my shirt off but I started getting some speed wobbles.”

Terry thought he could run off the board but he was travelling too fast.

“I did a somersault and ended up sliding the rest of the way down on my back.
There were 12-inch gashes across his skin.

He didn’t tell his mum but the blood stains on his sheets the next morning gave it away.
Then the 1980s came along and the sport fell out of favour.

Terry still has his board but these days he uses it to move around furniture rather than launch off homemade ramps.

“But I keep it around, you never know, the grandkids might even get into skateboarding at some stage.”