Sir Colin Meads honoured on hometown marae

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

NZ Rugby legend Sir Colin Meads lay in state at Te Kuiti's Tokanganui a Noho Marae for several hours where he was honoured by local Māori and his home town community. 

Sir Colin Meads received a fitting tribute of welcome from locals.

To honour Sir Meads whānau and friends, the English language was permitted in the marae formalities.

Former All Black Arran Pene stood and paid tribute to his former coach.

"One story I'll say about Colin. In 1993 when we played the Lions, we were part of the Māori team," said Pene, 

"At that stage the rugby union was very seriously looking at cutting Māori rugby. We know behind the scenes Colin did a lot of work to tautoko and to keep Māori rugby where it is."

Ngāti Maniapoto elder, Rovina Maniapoto said, "This is a tremendous honour for us, not just our tibe of Maniapoto but for all tribes from the Tainui canoe."

Three korowai by local weaver exponents the late Dame Rāngimarie Hetet and her late daughter Diggeress Te Kanawa lay on Sir Meads to honour the great pine of Te Nehenenui who has fallen. 

The daughter of Diggeress, Kahutoi Te Kanawa says it was a request from Sir Colin himself.

"Also it was fitting for our grandmother Dame Rangimārie Hetet for her cloak to be on him as well, from a Dame to Knight I guess you could say," said Te Kanawa.

The request for Sir Meads to lay at the marae was made by old school mate, Koro Wetere. 

"They were very close because they grew up on neighbouring farms on the other side of Te Awakino," said local elder Tiwha Bell,

"He (Koro) wasn't well enough to be here to support the many tributes spoken today, but he wanted us to continue on and that's just what we've done."

Sir Meads also had close relationships with many local Māori. 

"He was known by many of my elders and esteemed relatives, so today I have come to bring their spirit," said Maniapoto.

On Monday, Sir Colin Meads will leave his home for his final journey through Te Kuiti to the Les Munroe Centre, where a burial service will begin at 1pm.