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The Waddell Collection: NZ Surfing Memorabilia & Boards Offered For Sale

One of New Zealand’s finest collections of classic Kiwi surfboards and surfing memorabilia – held in a private collection – is being offered for sale.

The collection, stored in a hangar at Tauranga Airport, centres on more than 130 surfboards, both longboards and short boards, most in excellent condition.

It also includes a huge quantity of memorabilia ranging from skateboards to posters, movies, T-shirts and diecast models, to wetsuits.

Dusty Waddell is putting his vast collection of New Zealand-made surfboards and memorabilia up for sale. Photo: Grant Dyson

Tauranga businessman Dusty Waddell has spent years collecting the items that represent “a broad spread of New Zealand’s surfing history, from the early ’60s to the ’80s.”

The drive to establish the collection that at one stage ran to about 800 surfboards, came from a long-standing passion for surfing and the ocean, says Dusty. The collection is valued conservatively at well over $200,000.

Dusty started surfing in the early ’60s as a schoolboy at Ohope where his parents owned a bach, travelling over from Rotorua for weekends. Even then Dusty, whose background includes importing yachts and running a surf shop at Mount Maunganui, bought old boards and remodelled the old-fashioned ‘D’ fins to modernise them.

In the ’60s he also sold new surfboards as an agent for Del and Quane, both well-known New Zealand surfboard manufacturers.

“It was about a passion for the water,” Dusty says, “because I was yachting for a lot of years, too.”

“I’ve always collected stamps and coins, but the surfboards bit me. But I didn’t realise how much space you had to have.”

Dusty began collecting surfboards seriously in about 2005 after he had been out of surfing for some time.

His son Scott returned from university and brought a longboard with him which rekindled Dusty’s interest in surfing.

“One board went to five, five went to ten, and so on …”

The collection includes this Energy-labelled board made by Simon Anderson … before the thruster was a thing. Photo: Grant Dyson

Dusty has put his collection on display on six different occasions over the years. At one stage he remodelled a medium-sized industrial unit at Mt Maunganui to house the collection.

“We had longboards on the ground floor and we built a mezzanine around four sides and we had all short boards up there (upstairs).”

Also on display were items that had belonged to the late Miki Dora, ‘Da Cat,’ a noted, infamous, and likeable surfer of the ’50s and ’60s from Malibu in California. Dora had spent some time in New Zealand, hiding out in Mahia mostly.

The Dora items included contest trophies, photographs, sunglasses, a leather great coat and other items that belonged to the controversial surfer. These were sold to an Australian collector.

Bob Davie boards of this era – from his second New Zealand factory, in Mount Maunganui, are in high demand. Photo: Grant Dyson

Dusty describes himself as a collector rather than a hoarder.

“I’m more of a collector because you could see the history being wiped out and someone had to start collecting the old boards.”

One of the first people in the country to begin collecting classic surfboards, he admits it was to his detriment “as prices went up a lot.”

“I’m more of a collector because you could see the history being wiped out and someone had to start collecting the old boards.”

Dusty Waddell

The collection for sale offers the finest surfboards in his collection, boards that Dusty classes as 8/10 in condition – after earlier selling off the less pristine of the original 800-surfboard collection. The boards include Quane, Bob Davie, Del, Roger Land, and Hannah.

Some of the boards are collectable because of their history; the noted surfboard shapers who had crafted them.

“A lot have now passed away, such as Allan Byrne, Bob Davie, and Tony Waterhouse.”

Other surfboards in the collection are collectable as “pop art,” with one-off airbrush designs.

Dusty is inviting contact from anyone who has a serious interest in the collection. He notes that the valuation applies to the surfboards only and doesn’t include the memorabilia, which is “thrown in.”

He hopes to keep the entire collection, boards and memorabilia, together if at all possible.

Dusty is at pains to emphasise that the collection is so large and comprehensive that a purchaser with a suitable building can instantly establish a New Zealand surfing museum.

Interested parties are welcome to get in touch and we can send them a detailed list of the surfboards, a description of the other items, ranging from skateboards to T-shirts, wetsuits and movies and photos, says Dusty Waddell.

Keen to capture the culture of New Zealand’s early surf history? Or no someone who might want an instant surf museum? Contact Dusty Waddell on 021- 0761252 or by email at

The Waddell Collection Includes:

More than 130 surfboards, 35 skateboards, posters, magazines, books, advertising, signage (wood, plastic – including early surf logos). There are folders with information on New Zealand’s surfing history – including photos, contest results, and magazine and newspaper articles.
The collection also includes paipo, body boards (including early plastic), early Kiwi foam boards (Skellerup), inflatable mat, skim boards, early surf manufacturers’ signage – including Lost in the 60s, Toes on the Nose, and Rip Curl. A large collection of T-shirts (with branding, contest printed), wetsuits – including early ’60s, local company Bodyline, etc. It includes an early wax collection – including Sex Wax, BP early wax, Palmers, Sticky Bumps. Diecast models – including Kombis, Fords, and woodies. It also includes early homemade leashes … initially known as leg ropes.
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