Competition between Australia and New Zealand was held for the first time in 1888 when a Napier Rowing Club from Canterbury, representing New Zealand, competed for the inter-colonial championships in Sydney. The race was part of an attempt to send an Australasian crew to Europe. The Victorian crew were winners with NZ second, NSW third and TAS fourth. Alas no agreement could be reached on the terms of the tour. A conference of Australian States and NZL was held that night.
It was clear that Australians welcomed NZL crews in their competitions however there was a clear understanding that Australian crews were not prepared to travel to New Zealand. Accordingly competition between these colonies was limited by how often NZL were prepared to travel to Australia. It was not until post WWII that Australian crews started to travel to New Zealand. To be fair, Australian crews had more than enough travel within Australia to satisfy domestic requirements at a time when travel was both difficult and expensive.
Three years later W J Bridson, from Wellington New Zealand won the Amateur Sculling Championship of Victoria on the Lower Yarra. In 1896 W J McCormick from New Zealand came third in the Intercolonial Sculling Race and a four from NZL finished second in an intercolonial fours race despite having to withdraw two oarsmen deemed to be professionals - they were fishermen.
Perhaps the best of the early racing between Australian and New Zealand was conducted as part of the inter Allied Army racing in Europe whilst awaiting repatriation back to Australia after WWI. Whilst the Australian AIF crew won the King's Cup at Henley, the NZL Army crew won the International Eights at Reading, Puney, Kingston, Walton, Hammersmith and Marlow. Further and perhaps more importantly, they won the eights at the Allied (Pershing) Games in Paris defeating the Australian crew (after some changes from the Henley crew). Readers are referred to the more detailed account in the chapter on 1919 Peace Regatta.
Australians and New Zealanders were dominant in professional sculling with NZL producing World Champions of the like of Richard Arnst and Darcy Hadfield and Australia many others. Hadfield won many Inter Allied races after WWI including the Allied Games in Paris where he defeated professional Australian Alf Felton who later won the World Championships in the UK in the same year.
In the 1920s and 1930s New Zealand crews raced in both Sydney and Melbourne with great success. There were great races such as when crews from London Rowing Club (UK) and the Wanganui Union (NZL) raced in the Grand Challenge Cup at Australian Henley in 1934 and at the Victorian Centenary Regatta. The International crews swept the Australian crews aside.
Great racing also occurred at Empire Games regattas.
1940 to 1965
(The following was extracted from the 1965 Ampol Series programme.)
The last pre-World War II rowing clash between the two Nations came with the invitation for an Australian crew and Sculler in 1939 to tour New Zealand and compete in the Centennial Games in Wellington. The NSW crew stroked by Lance Robinson, (who has played a major part as advisor and assistant to Australia's coach, Owen Ruffels in the preparation of the 1965 Eight) and coxed by Bill Kerr, won the New Zealand Champion Eights to become the first overseas crew to win a New Zealand Championship. Two of this crew, Brin Jay and Terry Gordon Classford were killed in action while serving as pilots with the RAAF over Europe. The All Blacks had their revenge in the Single Sculls, when Bob Smith defeated the 16-year-old Kevyn Webb, in the New Zealand Sculling Championship.
As with oarsmen after the first World War, it took several years to start International events between the two countries. Unlike World War I however, service crews at the close of the war did not have the same opportunity to race. RAAF Eights raced at Henley and other Regattas in England, NZ Army crews raced in Austria and Italy, and during the war itself, an AIF Eight stroked by Vic Mossong, won the Champion Eights of Palestine.
In 1948 however New Zealand accepted an invitation to send an Eight and Sculler to Australia. The Aramoho Boat Club represented by D Morrison, W James, J Brown, W Carroll, J O'Brien, L Clarke, T Preator and Ted Johnston (stroke), who won the NZ Champion Eights, at both Picton and Port Chalmers, and the Aramoho Sculler, Joe Schneider, who was also the New Zealand Champion, arrived to race in a series of three Regattas. Haberfield, holders of the Australian Championship (one change from the crew that won the King's Cup in Hobart) won the first, Aramoho the 2nd, and in the NSW Champion Eights, the New Zealand crew clinched the series, to win the title by 6 feet. The Sculls were divided, Joe Schneider winning at Haberfield (after a dramatic race in which Kevyn Webb leading by 1 1/2 lengths tipped from his boat in a wash only 10 feet from the finish. Webb won from Wood and Schneider in the International Sculls at Sydney Regatta, from Schneider and Ron Rawlins at the Metropolitan Regatta, with the Olympic and World Sculling Champion, Merv Wood, coming back in the final race for the NSW Championship, to win by 1 length from Schneider and Webb who finished together.
The 1950 Games at Lake Karapiro was all Australia, 4 Gold Medals and 1 Silver from 5 starts. The great Eight-oared race went to Australia by the narrow margin of three feet, this first ever Gold Medal Australia Eight was boated: Bob Tinning (bow), P Cayzer, AP Holmes a Court, B Goswell, RL Selman (in 1965 Secretary, NSWRA), E O Longley, E O Pain, A W Brown (stroke), J E Barnes (cox), and Bill Thomas (coach). Merv Wood scored his great double, first in the Singles, over Tony Rowe of England and Tris Hegglun, NZ, then with Murray Riley in the Double Sculls. Australia's fourth great victory went to Wal Lambert and Jack Webster (both of whom has represented Australia in the fours at the 1948 London Olympic Games) over the New Zealand crew of brothers D C and A H Gould of the Avon Rowing Club. The Aramoho Boat Club four, all of whom had been in Australia in 1948, saved the day for New Zealand with a win over Haberfield, in the Coxed Fours. Coxed by Col Johnstone and coached by D Holmes it was W Carroll, W James, J O'Brien and Ted Johnson (stroke).
1951 was one of Australia 's greatest rowing years. An invitation had been received for a full rowing representation at the Canterbury Centennial Games, to be held at Kerrs Reach, Christchurch. The University of California coached by Ky Ebright, one of the World's Greatest Coaches, (he coached the Gold Medal Eights for USA, in 1928, 1932 and 1948) had also been invited. The impressive string of victories on this tour, consisted of International Eights, (Australia boated: R Tinning, D Anderson, D Palmer, N Greenwood, M D Findlay, E O Pain and Phil Cayzer (stroke), and Tom Chessell in the dual role of Cox and Australia Coach), and the Champion Eights of New Zealand, at Akoroa. The International Pairs, Ernie Chapman and Vic Middleton, at Christchurch, and a repeat of the Eights great double, by Norm Cannon and Kevyn Webb, who won both the international Double Sculls, and the New Zealand Championship, also at Akoroa. Reg Douglas of Mercer Club, gave notice of the start of his own great rowing career, by winning the international Single Sculls.
Australia and NZ did not clash at Helsinki Finland at the 1952 Olympic Games, when Australia gained a bronze medal in the Eights, and Wood a Silver Medal in the Sculls. But at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Canada they did. A year earlier the West End Crew, K Ashby, W Tinnock, M Ashby and L Culpan had won the NSW Champion Fours during a brief Australia tour, and Don Rowlands had amazed the rowing world, by his defeat of Peter Evatt and Mervyn Wood in the Champion Singles. At Vancouver the score was two all. Rowlands repeated his Australia victory over Peter Evatt, and the great pair crew, five times Champions of New Zealand, Bob Parker, and Reg Douglas of the Mercer RC, defeated England & Australia, Williamson and Anderson, Merv Wood and Murray Riley, won the Double Sculls and Australia's Coxed Four (a combination of our small boat oarsmen) won a spirited final from New Zealand.
In the Melbourne Olympics, Australia came out best with five crews in the final four. NZ failed to make a final. Although we did have the example of Douglas and Parker, defeating the Australian pair, M Grace and P Raper in a heat, to miss the final, by being defeated in the semifinal. Grace and Raper going on to take fourth in the Olympic Pairs. Stuart McKenzie on the start of his six months world rowing tour in 1957 started his grand slam of that year, which included the Diamonds at Henley England, and the European Championships in Germany, by winning the New Zealand Single Sculls Championship, from Don Rowlands on Lake Karapiro.
For the next clash Australia and New Zealand travelled more than 12,000 miles each, to remote Lake Padarn in North Wales in 1958. Taking the Australia v. New Zealand results only McKenzie defeated Hill in the Singles. Wood and McKenzie defeated Jim Hill and the late Norm Suckling in the Doubles. Parker and Douglas retained their Empire Pairs title defeating K Webb and S Roll, and Australia defeated New Zealand (3rd and 4th) in the Coxed Fours event. In AustralianNew Zealand rowing relations, the largest club party ever, of 38 Haberfield oarsmen, toured both the North and South Islands of New Zealand in early 1958, racing at Auckland, Hamilton, Wanganui, Wellington and Christchurch. Only major events won, were by Tan Tutty and Kevyn Webb, who won several Double Scull events.
With the withdrawal of Stuart McKenzie from Australia's Olympic Team in Rome, the last chance of Australia meeting NZ in 1960 passed. Jim Hill did go on to race in the Olympic Single Sculls final, and just fail to gain a Bronze Medal for New Zealand. This Olympics showed vast advances in both speed and training methods, and thinking officials in both our countries, agreed that more International racing was needed if we were to catch up.
So in 1961 Australia accepted an invitation to race a three Test Match Series in New Zealand. This tour with Geoff Mclntyre (Manager), Dr. Eric Longley (coach), and Roger Ninham (sculler), and Mosman Club Eight, representing Australia proved the strength of New Zealand Rowing. The All Blacks won all three Eights Tests, with Jim Hill gaining three wins also over Ninham.
In 1962 on the Canning River, Perth, a great Victorian Eight, I Douglas (bow), C Lehman 2, D Stankovich 3, T R Davies 4, M Guest 5, G McCall 6, M G Tomanovits 7, Neville Howell (stroke), D Palfreyman (cox), and coached by A Jacobsen, came back to defeat NZ by 2ft. A repeat of the great race of 1950 to win the Commonwealth Games Gold Medals. In all other events New Zealand finished in front of the Australian entries. Hill defeated Ian Tutty, M & G Lawrence, the Otago Pair, defeated W Hatfield and R Ninham, and M & P Watkinson defeated G Squires and B Wade. The Coxed Fours final was a repeat of the Eights race, with the narrow margin in favour of New Zealand, the Oamaru crew G Paterson, W Smedley, K Heselwood, W Stephens and D Pulman Cox being three feet in front of Australia's Corio Bay, Victorian crew at the finish.
And so to Tokyo and the 1964 Olympic Games. Murray Watkinson, the N.Z. Sculler for this tour, gained fifth in the Olympic Singles Final to finish ahead of Australia 's Peter Edwards. In the row off for the minor places, 6th to 12th, the Australian Eight defeated NZ and even up NZ Coxed Four, defeated Australia.
Racing Summary 1888-1965
(The following was extracted from the 1965 Ampol Series programme.)
Australia v. New Zealand
1919 Reading UK: NZ Army def Aust AIF Crew.
1919 Paris France: NZ Army def Aust AIF Crew.
1919 Marlow UK: NZ Army def Aust AIF Crew.
1919 Henley UK: Aust AIF Crew def NZ Army.
1925 NSW Championship: NZ def Mosman RC
1925 Riverview Gold Cup: NZ def Mosman RC
Bow: T Johnson, 2: F H Brown, 3: G W St Clair, 4: W Bayley, 5: W J Sergison, 6: E T Hegglun, 7: B Sandos, Str: C Healey, Cox: A H Eastwood
1934 Australian Henley: Wanganui Union def MUBC
1934 Sydney Regatta: Wanganui Union def Sydney RC
1938 Empire Games: AUS def NZ
1940 Hamilton Regatta: NSW def Hamilton RC
1940 Auckland Champs: Wanganui Union def NSW
1940 Wanganui Regatta: Wanganui Union def NSW
1940 NZ Championship: NSW def Aramoho
1948 Haberfield Regatta: Haberfield def Aramoho BC
1948 Sydney Regatta: Aramoho BC def Sydney RC
1948 NSW Championship: Aramoho BC def Haberfield
1950 Empire Games: AUS def NZ (West End RC)
1951 Centennial Games: AUS def NZ (Otago RC)
1951 NZ Championships: AUS def NZ (West End RC)
1961 lst Test Series: NZ def AUS
1961 2nd Test Series: NZ def AUS
1961 Wellington: AUS def NZ (Star BC Wellington)
1961 3rd Test Series: NZ def AUS
1962 Commonwealth Games: AUS def NZ
1964 Olympic Games: AUS def NZ
1889 Victorian Champs: AUS J H Kerr def NZ F Foster
1896 Sydney NSW: AUS MJ Slack def NSW McCormick
1897 Victorian Champs: NZ C Chapman def AUS C Browne
1919 Marlow England: NZ DC Hatfield def AUS AS Cox
1919 Walton, England: NZ DC Hatfield def AUS AS Cox
1919 Inter-Allied Games: NZ DC Hatfield def AUS A D Felton
1925 NSW Champs: NZ JW St Clair def AUS C Lorimer
1930 NSW Champs: AUS H R "Bobby" Pearce def NZ AKG (Gus) Jackson
1930 Balmain NSW: AUS H R "Bobby" Pearce def NZ AKG (Gus) Jackson
1934 Henley Melbourne: AUS Herbert Turner def NZ Robert B Smith
1934 Sydney NSW: AUS Herbert Turner def NZ P Abbott
1938 Empire Games: AUS Herbert Turner def NZ Robert B Smith
1940 Hamilton: NZ Robert B Smith def AUS Kevyn Webb
1940 Mercer: NZ Robert B Smith def AUS Gordon Clubb
1940 Wanganui: NZ Robert B Smith def AUS Kevyn Webb
1940 NZ Champs: NZ Robert B Smith def AUS Gordon Clubb
1948 Haberfield: NZ J Schneider def AUS Kevyn Webb
1948 Sydney: AUS Kevyn Webb def NZ J Schneider
1948 Metropolitan: AUS Kevyn Webb def NZ I Schneider
1948 NSW Champs: AUS Mervyn Wood def NZ J Schneider
1950 Hamilton: AUS Kevyn Webb def NZ I Stevenson
1950 Lake Karapiro: AUS Kevyn Webb def NZ RJ McCarten
1950 Empire Games: AUS Mervyn Wood def NZ J Schneider
1951 Centennial Games: NZ R Douglas def AUS Kevyn Webb
1951 NZ Champs: NZ R Douglas def AUS Kevyn Webb
1952 Lake Karapiro: NZ R Douglas def AUS Kevyn Webb
1953 Liverpool: NZ Donald Rowlands def AUS G Lawson 1953 NSW Champs: NZ Donald Rowlands clef AUS Peter Evatt
1954 Commonwealth Games: NZ Donald Rowlands def AUS Peter Evatt
1956 Olympic Games: AUS Stuart McKenzie def NZ Jim Hill
1957 N.Z. Championship: AUS Stuart McKenzie def NZ Jim Hill
1958 Commonwealth Games: AUS Stuart McKenzie def NZ Jim Hill
1961 Ist Test Karapiro: NZ Jim Hill def AUS Roger Ninham
1961 2nd Test Wanganui: NZ Jim Hill def AUS Roger Ninham
1961 Wellington: AUS Roger Ninham def NZ T Just
1961 3rd Test Christchurch: NZ Jim Hill def AUS Roger Ninham
1962 Commonwealth Games: NZ Jim Hill def AUS Ian Tutty
1962 World Championship: NZ Jim Hill def AUS Ian Tutty
1964 Olympic Games: NZ M Watkinson def AUS Peter Edwards
1938 Empire Games: Won by AUS C Pearce & W Bradley def NZ R Smith & A
1948 Sydney Regatta: Won by NZ J Schneider & D Simonson def AUS K Webb & N Cannon
1948 NSW Championships: Won by NZ J Schneider & D Simonson def AUS K Webb & N Cannon
1950 Empire Games: Won by AUS M Wood & M Riley def NZ J Schneider & D Simonson
1951 Centennial Games: Won by AUS K Webb & N Cannon def NZ J Schneider & D Simonson
1951 NZ Championship: Won by AUS K Webb & N Cannon def NZ J. Schneider & D Simonson
1954 Commonwealth Games: Won by AUS M Wood & M Riley def NZ R Douglas & R.Parker
1958 Wellington: Won by AUS K Webb & I Tutty
1958 NZ Championships: Won by NZ J Hill & N Suckling def AUS K Webb & I Tutty
1958 Christchurch: Won by AUS K Webb & I Tutty def NZ
1958 Commonwealth Games: Won by AUS M Wood & S McKenzie def NZ J Hill & N Suckling
1962 Commonwealth Games: Won by NZ M & P Watkinson def AUS G Squires & B Wade
1950 Empire Games: Won by AUS J Webster & W Lambert def NZ D & A
1951 Centennial Games: Won by AUS E Chapman & V Middleton def NZ E & F Lindstrom
1951 NZ Champs: Won by NZ J Herd & L Saul def AUS E Eder & W Winkworth
1953 NSW Champs: Won by AUS S Hobbs & N Greenwood def NZ M Lawton & H Smith
1954 Commonwealth Games: Won by NZ R Parker & R Douglas def AUS G Williamson & D Anderson
*1956 Olympic Games: Won by NZ R Parker & R Douglas def AUS M Grace & P Raper
1958 Commonwealth Games: Won by NZ R Parker & R Douglas def AUS K Webb & S Roll
1962 Commonwealth Games: Won by NZ M & G Lawrence def AUS R Ninham & W Hatfield
1964 Aust National Regatta: Won by AUS R Ninham & R Shirlaw def NZ M & G Lawrence
* Crews raced in Heat only NZ Crew failed to make Final - AUS 4th
1888 Parramatta River: Won by VIC def NZ (Napier RC)
1896 Parramatta River: Won by VIC def NZ
1910 Hobart, Tasmania: Won by NZ (Wanganui Union) def VIC
1925 Lane Cove, Sydney: NZ def Sydney RC
1926 Australian Henley, Melbourne: Won by NZ (Otago RC) def VIC
1927 Australian Henley, Melbourne: Won by NZ (Waitcmata B.C.) def VIC
1928 Australian Henley, Melbourne: Won by NZ (Wanganui Union) def VIC
1938 Empire Games (Sydney): Won by AUS def NZ
1950 Empire Games (Auckland): Won by NZ def AUS
1953 Liverpool NSW: Won by NZ (West End) def Sydney RC
1953 NSW Champs: Won by NZ (West End) def Sydney RC
1954 Commonwealth Games: Won by AUS def NZ 1956 Olympic Games: AUS 4th, NZ unplaced
1958 Commonwealth Games: AUS 3rd, NZ 4th
1962 Commonwealth Games: Won by NZ def AUS 1964 Olympic Games: NZ 8th AUS 10th
1919 Marlow, England: Won by AIF Crew def NZ Army