GEORGE NEGUS: They poured in from across the country, delivered by post, by courier, by coach and by hand.
It’s a beautiful reminder of a bygone era. There were much-loved old boards that had definitely seen better days, and there was even a brand-new one, purpose-made for the Sunset Surf Club. Some came from surfers who had a spare board lying around and others from those who no longer needed them. Eventually a total of 80 boards filled the Atrium here at SBS’s Sydney headquarters.
MIKE CAREY: I’ll just say a few words. I am the executive producer of the program. My name is Mike Carey.
GEORGE NEGUS: 44 of these boards were to be distributed among the six surf clubs in Papua, including 20 going specifically to the Lido village club. The remaining boards were sent up to the Northern Territory to teach Aboriginal kids water safety and awareness in the communities along the coast.
WOMAN: Just imagine the little kids running and meeting the surfboards when they come. You saw them standing in line. The ratio is about four kids to one board.
MAN: Four kids to one board, yeah.
WOMAN: Four kids to one board.
Stephen Takwei, the president of the PNG Lido club – the real star of Mark’s piece – was at the airport to greet the new arrivals and oversee their delivery. Flying with a special board he wanted to personally deliver was Will Webber. Will’s family are regarded as surfing royalty in surfing-mad Australia. All ex-pro-surfers, these days they make and shape some of the best boards you can pick up anywhere. The Webbers had hand-made a special board for Sunset’s top surfer, 20-year-old Eskelly Apara, and decorated it with the surf club’s very own logo. Back at normally quiet beachside Lido, excitement mounted as everyone prepared for the arrival of the boards.
STEPHEN TAKWEI: It means a lot because we are going to use these boards to train little kids to become good surfers. And if one or two or even more, they become professionals from the use of these boards, you people in Australia should get the credit.
MAN: The main part of it is the sharing thing. These guys can all go out together with the right-hander, the left-hander and they are going to go forward so quickly.
WOMAN: Do you want to say something?
BOY: Yeah, I am so happy.
A bit sadly, there were no decent waves to be had but that didn’t stop the local diehards from at least giving it a go and christening their boards. The special deliveries made, it was time to say thanks and ciao.
MAN: Yeah, brother. Surfing brothers.
But as Stephen presented Dateline and SBS with a ceremonial bow and arrows, it all got a bit much for the caring club president.
STEPHEN TAKWEI: To Mark Davis, Christine Heard and the SBS crew, this one is for bringing pride.
Thanks to Air Niugini for carrying the boards