Star Boating Club has existed since the mid 1860's and is one of New Zealand's oldest active rowing clubs. It is the oldest sporting club in Wellington and the 3rd oldest sporting organisation in New Zealand.
Star has its origins based around various boats including Gigs, Cutters and whaleboats. In 1866 the owners of these boats decided to join together and form Star Regatta Club. This was later changed to Star Boating Club.
The first clubhouse 1867 near the cenotaph, by the Parliament Building
During the first few months of its existence, Star stored its boats in various sheds around the then waterfront. In 1867 an instalment of £30 was paid towards the cost of building a boat shed, and this was completed on 1 May 1867. Reclamation work on the waterfront in 1874 necessitated the clubs first move; and another move would be required in 1883 as additional waterfront work commenced. This resulted in the present clubhouse being completed in 1887.
The Second clubhouse on the Lambton Quay site 1874
The new clubhouse was built on skids - should another move be required. This foresight would prove invaluable, and in 1889 further reclamation work forced the club to move again. This time the clubhouse was towed behind a steam engine to where it would stay for a hundred years. In 1989 it was moved to where it stands today by Frank Kitts Lagoon. This is likely to be its final resting site, as the skids have been removed and it is firmly concreted in place. The clubhouse is now listed as a category A historic building ensuring it's future for many generations of rowers to come.
The new Clubhouse on Customhouse Quay prior to it's move in 1889.
Customhouse Quay is now a busy Street in the CBD.
Close up of clubhouse on Customhouse Quay prior to its move in 1889
The new clubhouse above was a major undertaking for Star and at a cost of £2102, was a princely sum. The architect was Wm. Chatsfield who happened to be a club member. The land upon which the clubhouse sat was leased on a short term basis until 1907, when a lease of 21 years was obtained.
By the late 1860's Star Boating Club had established a regular racing and regatta schedule. This consisted mainly of races between selected crews, with the first inter-club taking place in 1868. This was the Wellington Anniversary Day Regatta, a big aquatic event in which Star notched up its first win. The 6 oared gig race, rowing "Rua Laura" winning the E.W Mills Cup that is still in the Clubs possession. By 1871 many of these early races were scratch races held between various clubs around the region.
Entires to the regattas was decided by committee and in 1872 the club decided to enter the Inter-Provincial regatta. This was a Four Oared Outrigger event which Star had never competed, let alone posses the boat. The Club Captain, Capt. Pearce ordered the boat from Salter, London. However this order was not fulfilled and records show the delivery of a new "4 oared outrigger" from Edwards Boatbuilders Melbourne, arriving just one week prior to the Inter-Provincial races. Needless to say the of Messrs L Blundell, J Bishop, C Webb and W Hackworth won the race.
During the mid 1870's, Star was active in setting the status of oarsman as either professional or amateur, thus forming the New Zealand Amateur Rowing Association - the NZARA. As a result, crews and races could be selected with set objectives in mind, At about this time, Star and Union Rowing Club Christchurch instituted clubs races as they are known today; the first of which was held in 1881.
Around the same time Star took ownership of more boats including three six oarded gigs and two four oared outriggers, all with fixed seats. However by 1879 technology had moved ahead and Star purchased its first four oar outrigger with sliding seats.
Senior Outrigger Fours Trophy 1887
In 1878, with growing membership and rowing success, Star Boating club built a training shed at Kaiwharawhara. This shed was later destroyed by a strong southerly storm in 1888. Something Wellington is noted for during winter. This didn't hold the back and in 1885 Star had additional competition from Mr James Stewart when he officailly founded Wellington Rowing Club right next to Star.
By 1890 and with increased local competions, Star had obtained a very impress array of plant, consisting of 5 whaleboats, 9 fours, 6 pairs, 4 doubles and 3 pleasure boats. Hence the large clubhouse which still has houses a very modern fleet.
Over the coming years, the whaleboats would slowly made way to rowing skiffs, however the whaleboats continued to be used as pleasure craft. the last two whaleboats were removed from the clubhouse in 1959.
With the formation of the NZARA the first National rowing championships were held in 1888. Three years later, Star had its first gold medal winning crew. Held in Wanganui on the 2 /3 of March 1891, J.G Duncan and A.S Bliss were New Zealand Double Sculls Champions. the following year W.E Bendall and A.W Newton won the Champion Pairs title and place second in the Double Sculls. Star also picked up a silver medal in the fours.
The Next championship win would be in 1899, then six years later in 1905 A.D Bayfield, A.T Bendall, J.A hughes and W.R.C Oswin won the Fours title.
The club has had many successes over the years, at local and national level. Star rowers have represented NZ at the rowing world champs, as well as the Olympic Games.
Star is always keen to hear from former members and historians who can assist in helping preserve Wellington Rowing history, the history of Star Boating Club. We may even be able to assist your rowing club through our records, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The clubhouse today on Whairepo Lagoon