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Alf Rendell Flying High at 100

Alf Rendell declares it was “the best 100th birthday” he’s ever had.

One hundred years and not out, and the Tauranga centenarian’s humour has not paled.

Alf gathered with family and friends on the weekend to celebrate his birthday at Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, which he joined in 1933.

On his birthday, on Thursday last week, his visitors included Richard Robinson, the inaugural recipient of the Alf Rendell Photography Scholarship. Richard visited to present a cake organised by Legacy Trust, and to let Alf know the scholarship had served him well.

The $2,000, annually awarded scholarship was launched two years ago using proceeds from Alf’s book Historic Tauranga From Above. The book features photos, taken by Alf from the cockpit of a Tiger Moth, of Tauranga and surrounds between 1946 and 1958. Legacy paid the required $25,000 to enable the production of the book.

The book was a sell-out and spent six weeks in second place (to then All Black Dan Carter’s book) on Books A Plenty’s best seller list. It first 2,000-copy print run was then replaced by a second of 2,100. Only a few copies remain, Alf tells.

Visiting with Richard was Legacy funeral director Mike Savage who says the scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Toi Ohoimoi Bachelor of Creative Industries student, is a wonderful legacy for the community. Legacy found it hugely enjoyable being part of the book project, he says.

Mike jokes he was especially pleased Legacy had thought to bring Alf a cake, as a framed sign displayed at birthday celebrations said “a party without a cake is just a meeting”.

Alf’s daughter Kay Ross and her three siblings were amongst the family contingent gathered for Alf’s birthday celebrations on Saturday. Kay says gifts included a framed photo board shaped in the number 100, and a trivia poster with facts pertaining to 1917. Both were both created by Kay’s daughter Farah.

According to the framed poster, Alf shares his year of birth with John F Kennedy. It was the year that Finland declared independence from Russia; the year the British Royal Family changed its name from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the English Windsor; the year Tauranga borough’s European population stood at 1,700; and the year optics and imaging company Nikon was founded.

The latter was well worth noting on the trivia poster given Alf’s occupation.

Alf was 8 months old when his parents shifted to the small village of Tauranga. He lived in Tauranga all his life, apart from three and-a-half years serving in the Pacific during World War 11. Upon returning from the war, Alf reopened the shop below his father’s photo studio. Alf’s son, Graham, took over Rendell’s Camera House upon Alf’s retirement in 1975.