Olympic rowers lend support for locals

EMMA HORSLEY
Last updated 13:48 01/12/2012

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The vandalism attack on the Horowhenua Rowing Club building has prompted two Olympic rowing medallists to lend a hand with the some of the club's younger members.

New Zealand rowers Peter Taylor and Joseph Sullivan, who both won medals at the London Olympics, travelled to talk to members of the beleaguered club after they saw media reports of the vandalism to the club's boats.

"I was really shocked at what had happened," lightweight double sculls bronze medallist Taylor said. "It sickened me, to be honest."

Taylor said he had experienced vandalism, described as mostly children being stupid, when he used to row in Whanganui.

"But nothing as systematic and nasty as this."

Vandals broke into Horowhenua Rowing Club at the end of September, punching holes in dozens of boats and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

It was the most recent of several vandalism sprees at the clubrooms.

In October, a community task force joined forces to help clean up and repair the rowing club and sailing club buildings.

Mayor Brendon Duffy pledged a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandals.

"It's fantastic to have these guys here, they have put a smile back on these kids' faces," said club spokesperson Jo Mason.

Taylor and Sullivan, a gold medallist double sculler, visited schools with their medals before going to the Lake Horowhenua club.

The pair were invited by Otaki MP Nathan Guy, who used to row there.

The club has been surrounded by controversy, with a recent Maori Land Court ruling stating there was concern that the lease on the Lake Horowhenua building the club occupies was void.

The club has been occupying the building on a month by month lease.

Lake Domain Board chairman Jason Roxburgh said Judge Layne Harvey had declined an application for an urgent interim order that would have provided the Rowing Club with new interim occupancy rights at the lake.

"He was not satisfied that it was within his powers to make such an order.

"However, he did agree with the alternative request for the court's confirmation that the domain board and or minister are not restrained from exercising the lawful powers provided for in the Reserves Act to grant rights to the clubs and or other parties while this litigation is in progress."

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- Manawatu Standard

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