Nelson Roller Sports Club

Nelson Roller Sports Club

South Island roller skating titles.(1963,9 Nov). Nelson Photo News. No 37, p.50. Click image to enlarge

Passionate Beginnings

The outdoor skating rink and ancillary buildings were built in the early ’50s by Dave Davies on Nelson City Council land. Keith Martin, an energetic advocate for amateur sports, started free coaching sessions on Saturday mornings, but after a disagreement with Mr. Davies who wanted to charge the youngsters, the newly formed Nelson Amateur Roller Skating Club left the rink for several years and found alternative venues at Tahunanui School, the YMCA and on a large concrete slab at the airport.

The Rink Nearly Lost

In 1957 the owner of the rink Mr. Davies found the business unviable and decided to close it down and have the concrete removed. At the last minute Mr. Martin negotiated a meeting and a sum of 900 pounds was offered to Mr. Davies.  Thereafter the skating rink was owned by the amateur club and a peppercorn rental paid to the Council. The club was determined to make skating available to everyone and only charged for special events while parents raised funds to improve and rebuild the facilities.

Mr. Martin learnt skating techniques by trial and error, or from overseas ice-skating books, as there were no roller skating manuals. Teams from the Nelson club travelled away to many South Island and National Competitions and still do. Mr. Martin later became President of the Amateur Roller Skating Association of New Zealand (for four years) and was on the New Zealand Olympic and Empire Games committee at the time when amateur and professional sports bodies were sorting out the rules of amateur status. 

Ongoing Improvements

Over the years new buildings and extensions were added to the Tanunanui facility –  four tiered seating, a refreshment shop, skate hire-repair shop, dressing room, ticket box and an eight foot high corrugated iron fence.

In order to create an all-weather/ all-season facility, the rink was roofed in 1983 and in 1986 the sides were enclosed. The facility was last upgraded in 2001 with new seating and the rink resurfaced with a specialised blue epoxy for smoother rolling and a better grip.  The floor was repainted in 2013.

The Nelson rink is one of the best training facilities in New Zealand, although there hasn’t been the same access to coaching and competitions as there is in the North Island, where weekly and fortnightly tournaments have flourished. As with any code, roller skating comes and goes in fashion. It was hugely popular throughout the world in the 1970s and ’80s and, once again, there has been a revival with the advent of Roller Derby in the last couple of years.

The Nelson Roller Sports Club sees itself primarily as a sports Club for the various codes – artistic, inline hockey, speed skating and roller derby, and secondarily as a public facility for skating, discos and private functions.

Nelson Stars

The 50s
Skating in the 1950s was very different to now.  Judith Griffiths and Heather Thomas (both nee Martin) were seven and four years old when they first clipped skates to their shoes in 1950s. At the time, circular skating skirts worn just above the knee caused a stir, especially when knickers were flashed when spinning or jumping!   

The Nelson club’s first nationals were held in Napier in 1955, with members dressed in club uniforms and singing their club song!  Heather was third in the kindergarten freestyle, and soon held South Island Freestyle titles in Kindergarten Juvenile, then junior age groups.

To raise the standard of New Zealand skaters, several teams of world-ranked skaters visited the country. Heather and Judith toured with them, sometimes performing in small town community halls if there were no rinks. All members were encouraged to participate in the YMCA’s Gym Frolics or Christmas Cracker shows.  Parents spent many hours creating the costumes, as well as ‘floats’ for civic parades.

Yvonne Collins at the Senior ladies novice free skating event, Tahuna. Nelson PhotoNews Feb 8 1964

The 80-90s

Monique Hippolite
Monique Hippolite and her four older siblings and parents were all heavily involved in the Nelson skating scene for many years. Born in 1978 Monique was given her first pair of skates when she was two and, at four years of age, competed in the New Zealand Nationals. Monique won the Pacific Junior Figure title for five consecutive years (1991-1996) and the Senior Trans Tasman Figure title the following two years. In 1994 she was voted the New Zealand Junior Maori Sportswoman of the year and in 1995-6 was voted Nelson Sportswoman and Sportsperson of the year. At 17 she represented New Zealand in the Junior World Roller Skating Championships held in Colombia and upset world rankings by taking the bronze medal in the compulsory figures event behind two American skaters.

Dion Bunt
Dion Bunt started skating in 1989 and says hanging out at the rink with his young mates kept them all out of trouble! Dion started playing roller hockey before switching to inline hockey and was instrumental in getting inline hockey going in Nelson. At 14 he played in the Nelson Senior Men’s Club team and continued to do so for 10 years before moving to Christchurch. At 19 he represented NZ Senior Men’s team and was the NZ Senior Men’s Captain for 6 years before turning his hand to coaching He was Captain of the Southern Region All Stars for many years. He proudly wears his Number 91 jersey and is well known in NZ and Australia for his tough defense.  He has coached various NZ age group teams including the NZ Senior Men in the World Cup in Slovakia. Dion is currently Captain of the NZ Masters Team (2014).

The 2000s

Josh Stove
Josh started skating at the rink in 2001 aged four, starting inline hockey when five and attending both afternoon and night public sessions on the weekends. At eight he set himself a goal to play for New Zealand. In 2013 he was selected as Assistant Captain for the NZ Under 16 team and played in the AAU Junior Olympics and FIRS Youth World Cup in Los Angeles, USA. His brother Devon was at the same events playing for the Under 14 team.  Josh played for New Zealand against Australia in the annual Oceania Championships held both here in New Zealand and in Australia in 2011. Josh developed his hockey ability at the Nelson rink, and has represented the Nelson Whalers at regional and national level and New Zealand for the last four years.

Roller hockey at Tahuna Carnival. Nelson PhotoNews February 5 1966.

Skate design evolution

When skates were first invented in the late 18th century they used aluminium wheeled skates but wooden wheels became popular in the 1960s and ’70s. 

“Wooden wheels were unbeatable for speed”, Ra Hippolite (life member and speed skating referee) said, “the wheels were coated in a type of rubberized glue and the rink sprinkled with chalk for extra grip. When the powder was deemed unhealthy, wheels then switched to synthetic materials but they could never match the speed of the wooden wheels. One drawback of the wooden wheels was that they would sometimes split in the middle of a race. Competitors would often carry a few spares in their pockets to clip on if this happened.” Early skates could also be clipped onto shoes, or screwed to marching boots.

In the 1990s with the arrival of Inline Hockey, a new style of skate was introduced. They soon became the preferred skate as they proved to be far superior for speed. Four wheeled quads however have continued to be used for artistic use and roller derby as they have more versatility for spins and multi directional skating.

The Codes

Roller Skating race. Nelson PhotoNews, June 24 1972. Click image to enlarge

Speed Skating
Speed skating started in Nelson over sixty years ago when the Club was first formed. Since then the club has produced many national champions in all grades and in most years has had a member represent New Zealand at the Oceania or World Championships. There are three types of speed racing – the 500 metre Road Track (usually run at the Trafalgar Park cycle track), the 100m Flat Track (run at a stadium or the Rink) and the 200 metre Bank Track (closest facility in Blenheim).

Artistic Skating – Figure Skating – Free Skating – Dance – Precision.
Figure skating is a set routine where skaters trace marked figures on the rink surface whereas Free Skating in singles or pairs has a dance element combined with figure skating. Dance follows traditional dance styles and Precision is when a team of skaters skate a routine of formations to music. This can be a mini team of four skaters or any number up to as many as twenty skaters. Precision skating isn’t practiced anymore in Nelson at this time.

Roller hockey was played from the ’50s but was overtaken by the new sport of inline hockey in the mid 1990s with rules and guidelines evolving over the years. Inline hockey is one of the fastest games on the planet, played on inline skates (roller blades) with four skaters and a goalie on the rink at one time. A game is made up of four ten minute quarters and has a few simple rules that make the game easy to learn and understand. Inline hockey differs from ice hockey in that it is a non contact sport. Currently the Nelson Whalers, who train and play at the Nelson Rink, have in line hockey teams in U10′s, U12′s, U14′s, U16′s and Senior Men levels. The club hopes to have another woman’s team in the near future.

Roller Derby
Roller derby is a female, full-contact roller skating sport played by 10 women at a time. Each team has four “blockers” and one “jammer”. The blockers skate in a pack, with a “pivot” keeping the pace, and the other team’s jammers have to try to break through the pack. The blockers work at stopping them and the jammers, if successful, start scoring points on their second run. The fast-paced exciting sport has proved popular worldwide with over 1000 leagues worldwide. New Zealand sent a team to Canada in 2011 for the first Roller Derby World Cup.  Nelson Bays Sirens of Smash Roller Derby League (SOS) is an amateur sports organization committed to promoting the sport of women’s roller derby. Founded in 2010, they are based at the Nelson Roller rink. 

Debbie Daniell-Smith, 2014 with contributions from:
  • Ra Hippolite – Patron, Life Member and Speed Skate Referee
  • Colleen Hippolite – Patron, Life Member and Artistic Skating Judge
  • Alan Bartlett – Life Member and Speed Skating Referee
  • Alethea Stove – President, and Inline Hockey Coach and Player
  • Kay Harris – Life member, Founder of Inline Hockey in Nelson
  • Heather Thomas – daughter of Keith Martin

Comment on this story

Further sources – Nelson Roller Sports Club


  • Dickinson, B. E. (1989). Historic Tahuna. Nelson, N.Z.: B. Dickinson.


Web Resources

Darebin Women’s Sports Club

In 2018, the Darebin Falcons have a team competing VFL Women‘s competition. The Falcons also have two senior teams competing in the Northern Football and Netball League women’s competition – a team in Division 1 and Division 2.

In 2017, in the newly formed  VFL Women’s competition, Darebin won their fifth consecutive premiership, defeating Diamond Creek at Etihad Stadium.

Before this, the Falcons participated in the VFLW and our Premier Division team have participated in every grand final since 2005 and hold a record breaking undefeated run from 2006-2010. The Premier Division team also went back to back in 2013-2017. The Division 1 team (formerly Premier Reserves) won the Premiership in 2007, and 2009 to 2011.

At a national level, 12 Falcons over two years were drafted to the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs in 2013 and 2014 to participate in the AFL Women’s Exhibition Match, held in Women’s round.  In 2016, the AFLW was launched with 16 players being listed. Darebin star Darcy Vescio won the goal kicking award playing for Carlton. And Darebin player’s Daisy Pearce and Lauren Arnell were respective captains for Melbourne and Carlton.

The second season of the eight team AFLW saw the Western Bulldogs win the Premiership against Brisbane at Ikon Park, with Darebin players Katie Brennan, who was also captain, as well as Aasta O’Connor, Elise O’Dea and Nicole Callinan as listed players.

If you are interested in playing Australian Rules Football or would like to know more about the Falcons you can contact our Football Representative. All players of all abilities and backgrounds are welcome. For more information about the training please contact us.

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Sports Club Websites | 15 Stunning Sports Club Websites

If you have recently opened up a sports club or already had one for some time, then the first thing you should focus on is to build up your club website. The internet is the first place where the outside world will be searching for you.

Your site will help you to keep your fans informed and attract more followers. It also increases the chance that new talented players will approach your club. Your website is the best way to market yourself.

As a sports club website, these are some essential elements that you should have:

In today’s competitive world, your club site must stand out from the hundred others. So, make sure to incorporate the above elements with creative design ideas to build your site.

To help you see what others are doing, we have shortlisted 15 best sports club websites for you.


With its launching in 2009, SPIN has taken the game of ping pong to a whole new height. It has lifted boundaries and attracted people from all spheres to come and have fun.

What’s so appealing about their site:

2. Lakes United SEAGULLS

Having years of history behind them, Lakes United has taken an important seat in Australian Rugby.

What’s so appealing about their site:

3. FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona is a popular club which is widely recognised all around the world. Their website is mostly focused on conveying the recent news and updates to the audience.

What’s so appealing about their site:

4. Mile High Golf Trail

Mile High Golf Trial at Colorado is there to provide their visitors with a diverse golf experience.

What’s so appealing about their site:

5. Melbourne Football Club

Melbourne Football Club uses parallax scrolling and video contents to make their site stand out.

What’s so appealing about their site:

6. Kingston Heath Golf Club

Kingston Health Club invites people from both home and abroad to come and have a game of golf.

What’s so appealing about their site:

Cricket Victoria sports a vibrant user-friendly website.

What’s so appealing about their site:

8. Greenhouse Sports

Greenhouse Sports has set out with the goal of changing lives through sports.

What’s so appealing about their site:

9. South Hawthorn Tennis Club

South Hawthorn Tennis Club aims to provide a friendly and fun place for playing tennis.

What’s so appealing about their site:

10. Melbourne Cricket Club

Founded in 1838, MCC has come up a long way and now is the leading promoter of sports in Australia.

What’s so appealing about their site:

11. Melbourne University Weightlifting & Powerlifting Club

MUWPC helps those interested in weightlifting and powerlifting in becoming world class champions.

What’s so appealing about their site:

Tennis Sydney is the largest tennis club in Sydney for the LGBTI group.

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13. Fitzroy Football Club

Fitzroy club has a long and rich history. And their site is a good example of how a sports club websites should be.

What’s so appealing about their site:

14. Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund has a great website that will engage any visitor.

What’s so appealing about their site:

MCC Kew has many sports and facilities for its members.

What’s so appealing about their site:

To be a top club, you need to have a well-defined identity — the best way to build that up that quickly is to increase your online presence. Sometimes it can be hard to communicate with a developer and convey to him the things you want.

You can bookmark any of the sites here and show them to the developer as a model. Many of them have common attributes. Remember that there is some difference in clubs that have already gained fame from those which are relatively new. Build up your design based on what category you are.

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