John Lidgard’s connection to Kawau Island forever grows stronger

 In 150 stories, Member Interest, News, Squadron Events

Having grown up on Kawau Island and been integral to the creation of the current Kawau sailing community, John Lidgard always treasures the opportunities when he can make the trip across to Kawau Island. 

The Lidgard family name is inherently intertwined with the RNZYS and the New Zealand sailing community. John and his wife Heather having have carried the RNZYS burgee close to 100,000 miles around the Pacific in a few amazing feats of sailing endurance. John has also been a renowned boat builder, and an incredibly accomplished competitive sailor over any race distances.

John Lidgard, with his Manuka sapling

The love of sailing goes hand in hand with the Lidgard last name, with generations of the Lidgard family found across the world’s sailing industry. You’ll find the Lidgard name from in anything yachting related, from boat classes and sail making to day-to-day sailing management. John himself understands the legacy of his family more than most, having wrote a Lidgard family sailing history, named “It’s in the Blood” in 2006.

John was part of the first Kawau Boating Club AGM as a teenager and was even responsible for putting down the original floor of the Kawau Boating Club building that stands just around from Lidgard House today. In fact, John had a hand in building much of the original infrastructure in the harbour.

The Lidgard Family Manuka sapling

Watching and listening to John tell tales about days spent in the small bays in Bon Accord Harbour and recall his childhood friends and their families, where they lived, and even what animals the family had was a fascinating guided tour by someone who obviously knows this slice of paradise like the back of his own hand.


Being able to accompany John over to Kawau was an incredible honour, learning and experiencing a crash course in how much he loves Kawau Island and how much his roots on Kawau shaped the life he has lived. Bon Accord Harbour may have changed, as has the sport of yachting. However, men like John Lidgard continue to leave their mark on the history of New Zealand sailing and the RNZYS. 

John Lidgard, in front of Lidgard House with new deck under construction

At age 91, John wanted to leave yet another memory of his family’s legacy on the shores of Bon Accord Harbour by planting a manuka sapling with a plaque as part of the RNZYS’s Kawau Tree Planting and Reforestation Programme. This sapling will have pride of place for years to come, marking the start of the track to climb the hill above Lidgard House and Smelting House Bay.

John Lidgard, admiring his Manuka planting handiwork

The Kawau Tree Planting and Reforestation Programme is a part of our 150th LEGACY project to replant our forest area on Kawau Island. This includes pest control, land clearing, installation of walking tracks and replanting of native trees. This is an effort to contribute to the longevity of the environments and native bird life in which RNZYS members use & enjoy.

A picture containing nature, water sport, swimming, reef

Description automatically generated
Our current progress on the Kawau Tree Planting and Reforestation Project

This is a long-term project that we hope to plant 12,000 trees from large specimen trees to small undercover plants and restore the bush and native birdlife over a number of years.

You can join John and purchase a native sapling and a plaque, to ensure your support of the RNZYS is recognised for generations to come. 

For more information about this project or to purchase a tree & plaques: www.rnzys.org.nz/product/buy-a-plaque/

The plans for plaque placements in our Kawau Tree Planting and Reforestation Programme

Written by William Woodworth

bwoodworth@rnzys.org.nz

Photo Credit – RNZYS

Recent Posts
0