Since 2017, Naru Surf Gathering has provided a safe environment and cultural space for Aboriginal people from the Coffs Harbour area to be introduced to surfing.
They are now hoping to offer these opportunities to more children and teens up and down the coast after taking out the January round of the Greater Bank’s #GreaterMidNorthCoast Community Funding Program.
Naru Surf Gathering was founded in 2017 by Amber and James Mercy, two passionate surfers who wanted to support their local indigenous community and honour the life of their father, Eric, a well-known Aboriginal Surfer in the 80's & 90's.
The gatherings that have taken place across a number Coffs Harbour beaches not only connect Aboriginal people with the ocean and the sport of surfing but also raised funds to support mental health services in the region.
According to Amber, it was the opportunity to expand their offering and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People from the Mid North Coast that saw the launch of Naru Goori Groms in 2020.
“Since launching Naru Surf Gathering we had more and more kids wanting to participate and learn to surf, which is why we established Naru Goori Groms,” Amber said.
“We conduct Naru Goori Groms for kids aged from two to 16 years of age. Once a month we come together with surf conditions dictating the location.
“The gathering provides a safe space for kids who previously wouldn’t have even attempted to go in the surf. The confidence they have gained within themselves, simply by taking part and learning a new skill has been amazing.
“For these participants though, it’s not just about learning to surf. We like to take a holistic approach to the gathering and speak about mindfulness, connection with the ocean, as well as being aware of your surroundings.”
Amber said that the funding received through the #GreaterMidNorthCoast program will allow the group to purchase a gear trailer. This will not only make the transporting of boards and other equipment to the gatherings far easier, but will also provide the capacity to conduct Naru Goori Groms in other regions.
“We’ve already had kids join us from areas such as Taree, Kempsey, Grafton and Byron Bay, so it will be great to eventually take to program to other coastal areas across the NSW Mid North Coast. This trailer will allow us to do just that,” Amber said.
“The trailer will be a game changer for our program, and we can’t thank Greater Bank enough for the support of us and the wider community through their #GreaterMidNorthCoast program.”
Amber Mercy, Naru Surf Gathering Founder.
Also benefiting from the January funding round were Tuncurry WWI Memorial Hall and The Coffs Harbour Protection of the Environment Trust who will each received $500.
Greater Bank’s Mid North Coast Regional Sales Manager, Karl McLean said he was proud to support an organisation that is lending its support to the indigenous communities across the region.
“The #GreaterMidNorthCoast program is at the heart of who we are – an organisation that cares about and is committed to supporting the communities that support us,” Mr McLean said.
“The monthly funding program has the ability to make such a difference to community groups, and in turn the lives of those people they are supporting.
“We are delighted to provide this contribution to Naru Surf Gathering and hope this will allow them to expand their gatherings to other communities up and down the coast.”
The February round of the #GreaterMidNorthCoast program opens on 1 February with Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Forster, Bowraville Lions Club and Coffs City Physie each vying for a share in the $3000 funding.