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KASK Annual Awards – Graham Egarr Memorial Paddle Trophy

By Paul Caffyn

Two beautifully crafted paddle trophies are awarded each year by KASK:

1. Graham Egarr Memorial Paddle Trophy for outstanding contribution(s) to the KASK newsletter

2. Graham Egarr Memorial Paddle Trophy for outstanding contribution to New Zealand sea kayaking


These two lovely trophies were built by kayak builder, John Dobbie, in 1997 to keep alive Graham Egarr’s long and outstanding contribution to paddling, water safety and river conservation in New Zealand.

During the 70s and 80s, Graham Egarr was the leading figure for recreational canoe and kayak paddling, water safety and river conservation in New Zealand. Although initially interested in sailing as a nipper, at the University of Canterbury he took up white-water paddling and met his future wife Jan.

The potential damming of a North Island river in the mid-70s led to an urgent need to rate New Zealand’s 100 most important rivers. With a grant from Lands and Survey, Graham and Jan began a nation-wide river survey in mid 1977, starting at the top of the North Island. Aided by the support of local kayak and jet-boating clubs, a total of nine regional river guides were completed and published in 1978 by the New Zealand Canoeing Association.

As well as editing the NZCA Canoeing magazine from to 1976 to 1986, Graham had three books published on paddling and wrote numerous well-researched articles for boating magazines. In 1979 Graham commenced working for Water Safety NZ as an education officer and after 10 years, he was the organization’s Director of Safety and Research. By 1987 Graham had left the NZCA and commenced publishing two independent newsletters for recreational paddlers, The Open Canoe Newsletter and The Sea Canoeist Newsletter. He organized the first national gathering of sea kayakers at the clothing optional Mapua Leisure Park in 1989.

After the annual Mapua sea kayak forum in 1991, Graham and Paul Caffyn had a plenipotentiary meeting of a national sea kayaking organization in Graham’s bathroom. He was lying back in an old fashioned cast iron bath, one of those with claw feet, trying to gain some relief from back pain by soaking in hot water. He was a tad annoyed that a North Island upstart, who stated at this recent forum that his intention was to form a New Zealand sea kayaking organization, and he would be setting rules and tests for certificates of competency.

You may wonder why two bearded sea kayaking blokes were in the same bathroom at the one time? Sadly to report, Graham was trying to ease the chronic pain of a cancerous growth around his spine. Graham suggested forming ASKNZ, association of sea kayakers, but as solo expedition sea kayakers of that era often imbibed an evening pre-prandial tipple or three of port, Paul suggested KASK, Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers.

Graham’s last The Sea Canoeist Newsletter (No. 34) was only two pages long – it included a subject index for his previous 33 newsletters, plus a very brief note to say publication of the newsletter was to cease.

He wrote:

This publication began four years ago because a number of sea kayak paddlers felt that there was a need for a regular newsletter to keep in touch with who was doing what, where.

I have really enjoyed editing and producing this newsletter and would have been prepared to continue it indefinitely. However, a very active life in the outdoors has left me with melanoma cancer, which has not been able to be checked. At the present time I cannot guarantee being able to complete another full year of newsletters and as almost all subscriptions ran out with issue 32 or 34, it seems best to end the newsletter now. The subscriber mailing list will be retained in the hope that the newsletter may be able to be restarted by another editor (any takers?).

All the best for future paddle trips.

In August 1991, when Paul Caffyn returned from the finish of his Alaskan trip, he drove to Mapua to see Graham. Paul noted, ‘the poor bugger was physically wasted but his mind was still as sharp as a tack’.

Even before his last newsletter was mailed (No. 34, November 1991), melanoma claimed Graham’s life on 19 September. At his Mapua funeral service, numerous tributes spoke of a gifted, talented all-rounder and a wonderful family man. Graham Sisson noted: ‘He was a visionary, always a jump ahead and 10 years ahead of his time.’

This year (2016) will mark 25 years since Graham fell off his perch. Paul has found his shoes rather huge to try and fill, in terms of continuing publication of The Sea Canoeist Newsletter and continuing with his paddler safety initiatives. With the help of Kiwi sea kayakers, with respect to newsletter articles, development of safety initiatives, keeping PC regulators at bay, and maintaining a safe but enjoyable approach to sea kayaking, Paul likes to think that Graham would now be proud of how KASK paddlers have taken up and continued with the role that he initiated with safe, recreational paddling in New Zealand.

Graham Egarr Memorial Paddle Trophy Awards – Recipients

Presented by KASK in recognition of the outstanding contribution to sea kayaking in New Zealand

1998 Max Grant

2000 Bevan Walker

2001 Dave Herrington

2002 Helen Woodward

2003 Paul Caffyn

2004 Max Grant

2005 Susan Cade

2006 Graham Charles, Marcus Waters, Mark Jones

2007 Sandy Ferguson

2008 Paul Hayward

2009 Evan Pugh

2010 Kevin Dunsford

2011 Mel & Max Grant

2012 Paul Caffyn

2013 Tara Mulvany

2014 Tara Mulvany

2016 Tim Taylor

Graham Egarr Memorial Paddle Trophy Awards – Recipients

Presented by KASK in recognition of the outstanding contributions to the
Sea Canoeist Newsletter

1998 Conrad Edwards

2002 Tel Williams

2004 John Kirk-Anderson

2006 Bob Wishart

2007 Cathye Haddock & John Kirk-Anderson

2008 Max Grant

2009 Sandy Winterton

2010 Cathye Haddock

2011 Jillian Wilson

2012 Mike & Chris Neason

2013 David Winkworth

2014 Colin Quilter

2016 Sandy Winterton

KASK's aims are to:

1. Promote and encourage the sport of sea kayaking
2. Promote safety standards
3. Develop techniques and equipment
4. Deal with issues of coastal access and protection
5. Organise sea kayak forums around the country
6. Publish the Sea Canoeist Newsletter and the KASK Handbook