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County News
Mark – A surfing coach from New Zealand.
Date: 2017-10-12    
The 2017 Taiwan Open of Surfing came to an end on December 3 in Jinzun, Taitung. It was the 7th consecutive international surfing competition held in Taitung. In addition, the highlight of this big event was the new birth of the WSL World Longboard Championships. The World Longboard Surfing Championships was first held in Taiwan with the highest level of competitions ever since. Jinzun Harbor has brought surfers from all over the world together, and gives competitors a platform to put on their best perfomance.

The big surfing event held in Taitung was such a pleasure for Mark. Mark is a professional surfing coach from New Zealand and currently teaches surfing in Taitung. It goes without saying that he loves surfing. “There are many young people in Donghe Township who are surfing quite well. If they can be professionally trained, they will be able to represent Taiwan to join international surfing competitions in the future and make a reat mark!” says Mark. After a long period of observation on the eastern coast, Mark believes that Taitung can bet on local resources to explore and cultivate local surfing talent. After all, according to Mark, Taitung boasts the best surfing conditions.

In 2002, when Mark finished his business trip in Taipei, he suddenly got the urge to visit Taitung. A place where he heard has a beautiful coastline, is sparsely populated, and pure countryside. It was then when he cycled from Taipei to Hualien, and then all the way down to Taitung, His first trip in Taitung lasted 2 weeks long. “There were no backpackers, no bed and breakfasts, no surf shops, and no surfers at the beach. But it was easy to make friends!” he says. “Because at that time, everyone was not busy making money,” he adds with a laugh. Remembering his initial encounter with Taitung, his heart still has a warm feeling. Soon after, he met his wife, Kite, and established a strong, authentic link with this land.

Mark was teaching a studentAfter a brief stay in Taitung, he started traveling between Shanghai, Hong Kong and back to Taiwan again and again. His two children were born one after another, but he rarely had time to spend with his family. Mark began to ponder if such a busy life was exactly what he wanted. Finally, between New Zealand and settling in Taitung as their choices, the couple decided to move to Taitung and settle down. “The most important thing was to let the children learn Chinese. Taitung is a great place to live, with nice public security and the people here are also very friendly.” Of course, he did not forget his favorite sport, surfing. While teaching English in Taitung, he also teaches surfing and planting vegetables, flowers, or herbs on his own farmland by using permaculture methods. Mark always enjoys what he was doing. “Surfing is seasonal. Summer is the perfect time for surfing. However, there are fewer surfing classes in winter. I want to run my own farmland by continuing my mother’s methods of growing Western herbs in New Zealand, and living a life that is close to nature”, Mark says.

From 2002 to the present, Mark has witnessed the transformation of Taitung. “There are many national competitions in Taitung now, as well as B&Bs and restaurants which are also blooming. There were not many business activities here before when we first moved to Taitung. At that time, making money was such a headache!” Mark feels optimistic about the increasing internationalization of Taitung, but also thinks it is a big challenge. To be more specific, how can the correct model be used to develop Taitung in the future, so that many stores, B&Bs and others can make profits from the tourism industry without becoming overly commercialized, and protecting the natural resources of Taitung at the same time? The delicate balance between commercialization and protection will be the key factor that affects whether Taitung will continue to attract foreign tourists or not.
Mark
“In addition, education is also a very important component. With a good education, children will want to stay and attract even more people to settle down here,” says Mark. After moving to Taitung, Mark has had a lot of time with his children. Moreover, both his boys have learned how to surf. “Unfortunately, only one primary school in Taitung has a swimming pool. It would be better if there were more swimming pools!” Mark’s has endless expectations because he fullheartedly loves this land, and educatioon is no doubt something he cares deeply about. What he wants is to teach his children to respect the core value of the land, and to live in harmony with nature. So let Taitung continue to maintain its beauty and harmony, and at the same time, allow more people to discover the unique charm of Taitung.