British Isles vs NZ Maori programme

British Isles vs NZ Maori programme

Souvenir programme for the rugby match between the British Isles (Lions) and NZ Māori at Eden Park, Auckland, on 5 September 1959. The British Isles won 12–6.

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Memories from yester-year

Posted: 24 Aug 2017

NZ Maoris v the British Lions 1959. What sticks in my mind as a kid just absorbing the aftermatch atmosphere is seeing this Maori All Black coming over to my late father and shaking his hand warmly. Man! A Maori All Black chatting to my Father. Wow! And just after an all important British Lions tour match. Evidently my father, Grant Holms had taught at Te Karaka District High School where Sonny Rutene had attended as a pupil. The Headmaster at the time was a Mr Doug Jillett who later became the Senior School Inspector for Maori Schools. Doug Jillett was responsible for acquiring a scholarship for Kiri Te Kanawa to come to Auckland so that she could further her singing career. And also at Te Karaka DHS was John Jillett who later as a professor at Otago University would become synonymous with the handling of beached whales in NZ and world-wide. And of the match? Who could forget the red-haired 'Pretty-Boy' Tony O'Reilly playing on the wing and getting roughed up from time to time. The brilliant Ken Scotland, playing for the first time at half-back, the first of the round the corner goal-kickers.Terry Davies, the Welsh full-back, David Hewitt another dazzling player with Bryn Meredith the top Welsh hooker having to play second string on tour to Ronnie Dawson, but captain on this occasion. The Maoris had just three present, past or future All Blacks, namely Keith Davis the dive-passing half-back whose service to Sonny Rutene was pretty good on the day, Pat Walsh, the Waiuku school-teacher and captain while Waka Nathan was yet to achieve prominence. Jim Grbich, the Wellington No 8 had a great game from what I can recall, especially his tackling and covering. Sadly he was to die tragically three years later in a car accident, still at the top of his game. Of course there were the wily Bill Wordley and Alby Pryor in the front row.
The other notable feature of a somewhat niggly game was the referee Mr Forsyth from Taranaki. He reffed with just one arm. He had lost it while serving at Guadalcanal in 1943. Although the game was won by the Lions by three penalties and a drop-goal to two penalties he did a great job at controlling what to some extent was a feisty match. But Sonny Rutene -your small act of kindness made my day!