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Skateboarding in New Zealand

Skateboarding in New Zealand

Skateboarding in New Zealand
Skateboarding in New Zealand


Skateboarding has been a thing in New Zealand since about the mid-1970s. Its fortunes have risen and fallen since then, but skateboarding really got a name for itself in New Zealand from about the end of the first decade of this century.

The New Zealand Skateboarders Association was established in 1976 by skateboard enthusiasts and manufacturers of skateboards and surfboards. Since then, the Association has organized skateboarding competitions, keeping the sport thriving and fine-tuned.

Even in its fledgling days, New Zealand skateboarding managed to make something of a splash overseas. In December 1979, one of the country's top skateboarders, Grant MacCredie, appeared on the cover of the American Skateboarder magazine.

And in the 1980s and 90s, another top Kiwi skateboarder, Andrew Morrison, was one of the faces of the American skateboard brand, New Deal.

Great Olympic Skate Roadshow in Gisborne, New Zealand.
Great Olympic Skate Roadshow in Gisborne, New Zealand.

Skateboarding in New Zealand today

Between May 10 and the middle of June, 2021, the Great Olympic Skate Roadshow event toured the whole of New Zealand. It featured participation by the New Zealand skateboard Olympic Team, and visited over 45 towns and cities.

The Great Olympic Skate Roadshow also stood out for the giant skateboard that toured the country with it. It was named Eke Tahi (meaning "Ride as One" in Maori) and at 12 metres long and weighing 800 kilograms, it could well be the world's biggest skateboard.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was the first Olympics to include skateboarding as an event. This gave skateboarding in New Zealand—not to mention many in other countries—a boost by further helping dispel prejudice against skateboarders and what they do, and bring a lot more people to skateboarding.

Skateboarding in Auckland and Wellington

Auckland has about 20 skateboard parks, mostly in the north, west and south. Posh east Auckland notably only has one (Crossfield Skate Park).

That's about the same number as in the greater Tokyo area, with a population about 30 times bigger than Auckland's.

Wellington hosted the international Vans Bowl-A-Rama skateboarding championship event for 7 years, from 2008 to 2014, which brought worldwide attention to New Zealand and its skateboarding scene.

Also, in the past, Wellington skateboarders have complained about negative views of skateboarding from those in the local authorities. However, that seems to have all changed. In 2021, the Wellington City Council allocated $1.5 million towards improving skateboard facilities in the municipality.

New Zealand skateboarding on YouTube

Significantly, though, the Wellington Skateboard Association's "Treetops Skate Jam 2019" video on YouTube, posted in March of that year, had only 2,500 views over two years later. This could be a lack of SEO skills on the part of the Association, but it is not an impressive viewcount for a citywide competition.

And much bigger Auckland doesn't do much better. One of the top videos on YouTube features the Element NZ Invitational competition at Victoria Street Skate Park, Auckland, in 2015. However, five and a half years later it has still got only 11,900 views, which is not that much better than for Wellington's "Treetops Skate Jam 2019".

Even the "NZ Raw" series of raw skateboarder footage, shot in New Zealand by visiting overseas skateboarders, has failed to garner much interest on YouTube. This is spite of it being featured on The Skateboarder's Journal website. However, we recommend checking them out for a great on-the-ground look at the state of New Zealand skateboarding on the streets in recent years.

But "NZ Raws" failure to get clicks could be because it's just too raw and homemade. The slicker GoPro Skate: Road Trip New Zealand has clocked up way more hits, and is also worth a look.

New Zealand's provinces: the future of skateboarding?

Monument in Gisborne to Captain Cook: New Zealand's first skateboarder?
Monument in Gisborne to Captain Cook: New Zealand's first skateboarder?

Maybe the provinces of New Zealand are further ahead when it comes to promoting skateboarding.

For example, the town of Gisborne, with a population of just 34,000, has its own Alfred Cox Skate Park, which is due to get a major upgrade in 2022. Also a local trust took the opportunity afforded by the Great Olympic Skate Roadshow to hold skateboarding workshops for residents of the town.

Also, in January 2021, Gisborne's Alfred Cox Skate Park was the venue for "Surely Shred", a skateboarding competition that began this year, with plans for it to be held annually. The contest was organized by the Surely Skate women's skateboarding group. It received enough funding to offer prize money, and attracted competitors from all over the North Island.

Women's skateboarding seems to have become noticeably popular in New Zealand just over the past two or three years, and provincial towns like Gisborne seem to be at the forefront. Tellingly, the Surely Shred Skate Comp video on YouTube has had over 1,500 views in just seven months.

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