Nerds Like Us | A Treasure Trove of Vintage Snowboards from Wanaka’s Secret Collections…

Words: Cayley Alger

As I’m sure you are already, well aware (unless of course you have been living under a mass media rock) when the Corona Virus descended onto little old New Zealand earlier this year, so did Jacinda’s iron fist. The country went into a full lockdown for 4 weeks, with another almost 3 weeks under level 3 restrictions (basically the same as lockdown). There were financial, social, and emotional stresses throughout the whole thing.

Though (and I think I can speak for most here) I think we all learnt to not take those pre-pandemic times for granted. Times like having a beer with your mate sitting within a 2-meter proximity and just shooting the shit about snowboarding.

Which is why I wanted to catch up with Matt Proctor; Wanaka local, father, husband, and resident snowboard Nerd, about his recent exhibition. “Nerds like Us.” (A treasure trove of vintage snowboards from Wanaka’s private collections) And more importantly, how that came into fruition. 

Cayley: Talk about something out of nothing, where did the idea for ‘Nerds like us’ come from?

Matt Proctor: During lock down people were going crazy over top ten albums, old-school photos etc.

I mean the crash challenge was quite entertaining… the push-up challenge… not so much. Looking back, I really question my own sanity around this time.

I think My mates got in on this by posting their top ten snowboard parts, or their favourite graphics. So, I guess you could say the idea was really generated while I was at my friend’s house a week after lock down finished, we were hanging out and started talking about old boards. Todd pulled out a few of his favourites and I got pretty excited to see the old shapes. I thought about how that chat had lifted my spirits, lockdown had had quite an impact on me, and I just wanted to share the stoke.”

The collection is from about 6-8 people and I had joked with my mate Tony about it only being interesting to “nerds like us” and boom we had a name.

The collection revolves around the contributors and what the boards mean to them, it could be their dad’s home-made board, a pro they loved or their own first snowboard. For me it’s about bringing the stories together and takes me back to a very simple time in my life when I slung boards for a living at The (OG) Boardhouse in Wanaka.

Honestly, the amount of… (for want of a more poignant word) ‘rad’ projects that have evolved out of a couple of snowboarders being hunkered down at home with a couple of beers is actually endless.

I guess that also fed the idea after seeing Todd’s boards. I’ve been into boards and snowboarding for my whole life, so the show is a perfect mix of nostalgia, connections, stories and trying to do something positive for our completely under resourced mental health services in Wanaka.

What better way to create awareness and improve the mental health of our little community than to bring a bunch of like-minded nerds into the same room. Something that back in April we only dreamt of doing. With all funds raised on the night making their way to the Wanaka Mental Health peer support group the event positively affects a lot more than those just those who physically attended the event.

No distancing needed in NZ | Image: Mike Handford

So, I’ve got to ask who had the best collection?

I think perhaps the standout is from the collector that has contributed the majority of the boards, It’s the Complete 2000 Burton Balance series and is unridden. The board art was produced by Mike Parillo and was produced in reaction to pro snowboarder Jamil Kahn’s passing in 1998. Even though the series is 20 years old they look brand new.

20 year old Gold | Image: Mike Hanford

Any other standouts for a snowboard veteran like yourself?

Of course, though all the collectors, have something special, my highlights were:

Jason Fords own 1988 Burton Air

This board was given to Kiwi Shredder Leon Eru after he placed first in a Vermont retro snowboard competition. The board alone is super rare but the fact that it was Jason Fords personal board is super cool.

The elusive Burton Air | Image: Bridgette McQuillan

The 1994 Lamar Mike Ranquet – With Led Zeppelin base

Super rare very few of these were made, the board was originally supposed to have the Zeppelin graphic but Lamar was issued with a cease and desist order, so they changed the artwork to the cross. The boards aren’t in the best condition, but I love the story. Ranquet was such an influence in snowboarding and helped shaped the 90’s scene.

Winterstick 1975 Roundtail

Another very rare board and the oldest in the collection, fibreglass construction, bottom concave and a skeg for turning. This was the beginning of snowboarding and I just love the obvious design language cross over from surfing.

Surfs Up… | Image: Bridgette McQuillan

New Zealand Manufactured Boards

I love that we had a period in New Zealand where crew were willing to produce boards here. Quentin Robbins and Olly Brunton’s Units, Trev Pontings Syndicates and of course Snostix.

The fish tail, making a now very strong comeback into snowboard design | Image: Mike Handford

Just to put some of these dates into perspective for you, snowboarding only began to gain popularity in New Zealand around the mid-80s’, after the sport had already gained significant traction in the US towards the end of the 70s’ . The first boards were imported into the country around 1986. That’s only 34 years ago! Some of these boards are literally pre-dating that.

So, while the history of snowboarding isn’t particularly long, it is rich. Yes, especially here in New Zealand. All it took was a little nationwide lock-down, and a couple of beers on the other side of that for Matt and a few key members of the community down here in Wanaka to do us all a favour and remind us of what we have sitting in our own back yards (or in the back forgotten corner of our dusty old garages). Shout out to the Blend Creative & Co, Guy Alty, Volcom, Burton, Salomon Snowboards, Maude, Rhyme and Reason and The Collectors (who shall remain Nameless). This event really wouldn’t have come to life without them all.

And, how about this… next time you’re thinking of throwing away / not buying / or passing on that board which you’ve loved to dearly, you might just want to reconsider… In another 34 years that thing could be a part of history and be the reason for bringing a few other like-minded people into one room to share the stoke.

Boards, boards and more boards…heaven | Image: Mike Handford


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