Mark Raymond Pickett - ‘Skin’ - epitomised the true clubman

Well respected member of the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club put in 1500 patrol hours

Well respected member of the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club put in 1500 patrol hours

Champions: The members of the Waikanae team who won the four-man rescue and resuscitation event at the 1969 national surf lifesaving champs were (from left) Mark Pickett, Garry Thompson, Bruce Adams and Barry (Joe) Green. Gisborne Herald file picture


Fifteen hundred patrol hours. Eight rescues. Numerous assists, first aids and preventative actions. And another top-three performance at the national surf lifesaving championships.

Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club’s achievements over the 2017-18 summer served to reinforce the high standards set by club members over the club’s 68 years — a proud history to which Mark Raymond Pickett made a strong contribution.

Mark passed away on April 22, just a few weeks short of his 77th birthday.

The large gathering of family, friends and former lifeguards who attended Mark’s funeral service was testament to his standing in the community and, in particular, the high place he occupied among those past club men.

During his first year at Gisborne Intermediate School, Mark, elder brother Tony and younger sister Leslie took up swimming, coached by Annette McLeod at the Olympic Swimming Club, which operated out of the old MacRae Baths in the area now occupied by the Marina.

Many of the Olympic men were also Waikanae members and, in 1953, 12-year-old Mark and good mate Barry “Joe” Green were drawn into what was to become a 66-year journey with the club when they joined a group of cadets.

From the outset, Mark’s thin build led to his being given the nickname Skin.

He became a fully qualified lifeguard when he turned 15 in 1956, the same year he was selected to compete at the North Island Secondary Schools’ Swimming Championships as a member of Gisborne Boys’ High School’s first swimming team.

The major competitive emphasis in surf lifesaving of the 1950s and ’60s centred around team events associated with the surf reel, line and belt.

It was in those events that Skin made an outstanding contribution to Waikanae’s sporting tradition.

Between 1959 and 1972, Mark Pickett amassed 19 New Zealand championship medals — eight gold, seven silver and four bronze

From the time he entered the senior ranks in 1959 until the end of his competitive days in 1972, Skin amassed 19 New Zealand championship medals — eight gold, seven silver and four bronze.

The most coveted trophy in those years was the Nelson Shield for the six-man rescue and resuscitation championship.

Waikanae won that blue riband event seven times and Skin was a member of those teams on five consecutive occasions — in itself a feat never matched by any other club.

The reputation that the four-man R&R team of Skin, Bruce “Tiny” Adams, Joe Green and Garry Thompson forged in that championship arena reached almost legendary proportions. Particularly noteworthy was an overwhelming win into a huge sea at Piha beach in 1970 when some rivals failed to have their swimmers reach the buoys.

Over those years, Mark also served on the club committee. His genial approach and popularity with other members were reflected in his being elected as club captain from 1969 to 1973.

Mark Pickett possibly never fully comprehended the respect that fellow members felt for him

He possibly never fully comprehended the respect that fellow members felt for him.

It was in the latter years that he became one of the first to volunteer as an instructor for the newly formed Sunday morning nippers programme.

The progamme, still running today, has taught so many youngsters skills and sea knowledge that stay with them for life, even if they do not remain with the club and qualify as future lifeguards.

Skin served an electrical apprenticeship and, after qualifying, he and Ron Lightfoot eventually went into partnership as Lightfoot and Pickett Electrical Contractors until retirement in 2009.

His experience in wiring innumerable new homes also had him in demand on many occasions at the club, especially with the many building repairs and extensions required by the old clubhouse before the advent of the new building.

In 1990, following many summers spent camping at Anaura Bay, Skin, wife Pam, Mike and the late Liz Swanson, and Fiona and the late Bernie Norman formed a syndicate which bought and developed a beachside property there.

It was a special place that became Mark’s pride and joy, providing 28 years of family fun and laughter.

Consequently it was understandable that, although he remained a staunch Waikanae supporter, the demands of his business and the attraction of Anaura meant for some years he drifted from the actual club scene.

However, over recent times Mark’s role in organising a reunion of the oldest members and his membership of a group labelled Dad’s Army, who worked out in the gym at the new Waikanae clubhouse, brought him back to regular involvement.

He will be sadly missed but never forgotten, not only by Pam, daughter Carla, son Dane, and wider family and friends, but also former club members for whom his loyalty, sportsmanship, team spirit, comradeship and good humour epitomised the true clubman.

Skin really put his mark on the annals of Waikanae.

Fifteen hundred patrol hours. Eight rescues. Numerous assists, first aids and preventative actions. And another top-three performance at the national surf lifesaving championships.

Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club’s achievements over the 2017-18 summer served to reinforce the high standards set by club members over the club’s 68 years — a proud history to which Mark Raymond Pickett made a strong contribution.

Mark passed away on April 22, just a few weeks short of his 77th birthday.

The large gathering of family, friends and former lifeguards who attended Mark’s funeral service was testament to his standing in the community and, in particular, the high place he occupied among those past club men.

During his first year at Gisborne Intermediate School, Mark, elder brother Tony and younger sister Leslie took up swimming, coached by Annette McLeod at the Olympic Swimming Club, which operated out of the old MacRae Baths in the area now occupied by the Marina.

Many of the Olympic men were also Waikanae members and, in 1953, 12-year-old Mark and good mate Barry “Joe” Green were drawn into what was to become a 66-year journey with the club when they joined a group of cadets.

From the outset, Mark’s thin build led to his being given the nickname Skin.

He became a fully qualified lifeguard when he turned 15 in 1956, the same year he was selected to compete at the North Island Secondary Schools’ Swimming Championships as a member of Gisborne Boys’ High School’s first swimming team.

The major competitive emphasis in surf lifesaving of the 1950s and ’60s centred around team events associated with the surf reel, line and belt.

It was in those events that Skin made an outstanding contribution to Waikanae’s sporting tradition.

Between 1959 and 1972, Mark Pickett amassed 19 New Zealand championship medals — eight gold, seven silver and four bronze

From the time he entered the senior ranks in 1959 until the end of his competitive days in 1972, Skin amassed 19 New Zealand championship medals — eight gold, seven silver and four bronze.

The most coveted trophy in those years was the Nelson Shield for the six-man rescue and resuscitation championship.

Waikanae won that blue riband event seven times and Skin was a member of those teams on five consecutive occasions — in itself a feat never matched by any other club.

The reputation that the four-man R&R team of Skin, Bruce “Tiny” Adams, Joe Green and Garry Thompson forged in that championship arena reached almost legendary proportions. Particularly noteworthy was an overwhelming win into a huge sea at Piha beach in 1970 when some rivals failed to have their swimmers reach the buoys.

Over those years, Mark also served on the club committee. His genial approach and popularity with other members were reflected in his being elected as club captain from 1969 to 1973.

Mark Pickett possibly never fully comprehended the respect that fellow members felt for him

He possibly never fully comprehended the respect that fellow members felt for him.

It was in the latter years that he became one of the first to volunteer as an instructor for the newly formed Sunday morning nippers programme.

The progamme, still running today, has taught so many youngsters skills and sea knowledge that stay with them for life, even if they do not remain with the club and qualify as future lifeguards.

Skin served an electrical apprenticeship and, after qualifying, he and Ron Lightfoot eventually went into partnership as Lightfoot and Pickett Electrical Contractors until retirement in 2009.

His experience in wiring innumerable new homes also had him in demand on many occasions at the club, especially with the many building repairs and extensions required by the old clubhouse before the advent of the new building.

In 1990, following many summers spent camping at Anaura Bay, Skin, wife Pam, Mike and the late Liz Swanson, and Fiona and the late Bernie Norman formed a syndicate which bought and developed a beachside property there.

It was a special place that became Mark’s pride and joy, providing 28 years of family fun and laughter.

Consequently it was understandable that, although he remained a staunch Waikanae supporter, the demands of his business and the attraction of Anaura meant for some years he drifted from the actual club scene.

However, over recent times Mark’s role in organising a reunion of the oldest members and his membership of a group labelled Dad’s Army, who worked out in the gym at the new Waikanae clubhouse, brought him back to regular involvement.

He will be sadly missed but never forgotten, not only by Pam, daughter Carla, son Dane, and wider family and friends, but also former club members for whom his loyalty, sportsmanship, team spirit, comradeship and good humour epitomised the true clubman.

Skin really put his mark on the annals of Waikanae.

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