Sir Colin Meads statue for Te Kuiti
Colin Meads has always been larger than life – on and off the field. The All Black great, now aged 80, has received hundreds of accolades in his life. But in his hometown of Te Kuiti – whose tagline is ‘Where legends are made’ – he has yet to be immortalised.
That is until now.
The legendary knight, who played 133 games for the All Blacks from 1957-1971 and was named ‘Player of The Century’ in 1999, has always been a no fuss, no bother, kinda bloke.
It is this attitude that has made him so beloved by rugby fans the world over, and indeed by locals who know him well for his humble down-to earth nature.
So it’s no surprise his initial reaction to a team currently working on a 1.5 x life-size bronze statue to be erected in Te Kuiti’s main street would be why would people want to see it. An understatement that is so typical of Sir Colin.
New Zealand Rugby
However, the reaction from rugby’s national body is quite the opposite.
New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey says “This project is a fantastic idea and a great way for Te Kuiti to celebrate one of their own.
“It goes without saying that Sir Colin is one of New Zealand’s special treasures – both as an All Black, but also as a great example of what it means to be a New Zealander.
“What we love about Sir Colin is that despite the international recognition and praise heaped on him, he just considers himself to be a guy from Te Kuiti.
“One might suspect that he’ll be none pleased about this fuss, but even he will have to admit the statue will be a great attraction for tourists coming over for the British and Irish Lions tour next year, and that’s got to be great for Te Kuiti.”
Waitomo mayor Brian Hanna, who has been a driving force behind getting the statue project off the ground, is very pleased the man known the world over as Pinetree will soon be immortalised.
“This will be a fantastic tribute to our most famous legend.
“It is great New Zealand Rugby is right behind this opportunity to pay homage to Sir Colin, in the rightful place – his hometown.
“A statue of Sir Colin is well overdue.”
It will be made by Natalie Stamilla, the Auckland artist responsible for the bronze statue of All Black great Michael Jones scoring the first try in the opening game of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, which is in pride of place at Eden Park.
“I’m thrilled to have been asked to create a sculpture of the Player of the Century, Sir Colin,” she says.
“The committee working on this has come up with a magnificent way to honour one of rugby’s real legends and I’m excited to be a part of it.
“It will preserve his legacy for many generations to come.”
Standing 2.9 metres high, the sculpture, which will depict Sir Colin at the pinnacle of his All Black career, is 150% greater than life-size and will weigh close to a tonne.
Led by the town’s development committee – Legendary Te Kuiti (LTK) – whose mission is to make the small rural North King Country town a legendary place to live, work and play – the project team is now seeking additional funding for the statue.
LTK project manager Yvette Ronaldson say: “This statue is costing a significant amount and we are appealing to the New Zealand public to help us fund it.
“It’s the Kiwi way for communities to get behind these types of projects and this is certainly one of the special ones, significant for many New Zealanders.
“Not only is Sir Colin iconic in terms of rugby, he has given so much to the Te Kuiti community and the country for many years.
“His support of a huge variety of charities alone is immeasurable.
“We believe it is now time for us as a town and a country, to pay homage to him, to thank him.”
It is planned to unveil the statue to coincide with the British and Irish Lions tour in June.
An exhibition of memorabilia from the Meads brothers – Sir Colin and Stan – will be opened to the public at the same time.
“Our goal is to turn this project into a major attraction for Te Kuiti, and our wider district alike,” says Mr Hanna.
“The significant tourist numbers expected for the Lions tour – 20,000 plus with the vast majority to be based in the North Island – is the perfect opportunity to open the Meads exhibition to not only New Zealanders but the rugby world.
“It is also great to have the support of the wider Meads family, who are pleased to share the amazing collection of rugby memorabilia collected over many years with the New Zealand and international public.”
Mr Hanna says the statue and exhibition will be of economic benefit to Te Kuiti in attracting visitors to the region, as well as honouring the country’s greatest All Black for all time.
He is hopeful additional funding will be forthcoming.
“We are on our way with this project, but do need more financial support to see it through.
“So I am hopeful the national business and private sector will get behind us.”
Details available on www.facebook.com/tekuiti/legends
Waitomo mayor Brian Hanna
M: +64 (0)21 726 282.
Te Kuiti project manager/marketing officer
M: +64 (0)27 322 3472.