On Monday, June 19, the official unveiling of the Sir Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads statue and the opening of the Gallagher Meads Brothers Exhibition was held in the rugby brothers’ home town.
Sir Colin, and his brother Stan, were each All Blacks. Their deeds are recognized by the people of Te Kuiti, and rural town in the Waikato region of New Zealand.
Attending Monday’s event will be rugby commentator Keith Quinn (MC), New Zealand Rugby and New Zealand Rugby Foundation representatives and VIPs (Very Injured Players), former All Blacks including Sir Brian Lochore, Bryan Williams and Tane Norton, Waitomo mayor Brian Hanna as well as the Meads family, friends, locals and school children.
Meads Considered By Many to be the Greatest Rugby Player Ever
When fans hear the name Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads, the player is considered one of the greatest. Arguably, the greatest New Zealand rugby player, his reputation is known across the rugby world.
Colin Earl Meads [KNZM MBE]: All Black 1957 – 1971, 133 games including 55 tests matches. Captain on 11 occasions: debut Saturday, 25 May 1957 v Australia
Stanley Thomas Meads: All Black 1961 – 1966, 30 games including 15 test matches
The younger brother of Sir Colin, Stan took the lead in speaking publicly on the community project. He spoke glowingly of the project and the sentiment shown by the district. The two ‘favourite sons’ have always been true to the Cambridge/Arapuni – South Waikato area. And there is no better way for the area to repay the two All Blacks, than in such an exhibition.
Below, Stan talks to ‘The Country’ host Jamie Mackay. (click on box to listen)
A Legendary Effort to Show Community Respect for ‘Pinetree’
The locally supported effort was a project directed by the Legendary Te Kuiti (LTK) committee and funded by sponsors, donations and grants. LTK marketing officer Yvette Ronaldson says preparations are on track for what will be a huge day for the entire community.
“The statue looks amazing, it’s packed and ready to come down to Te Kuiti,” she says. “The exhibition is also making good progress, and although it is difficult to decide what to display, it will be ready on Monday.
“We have had wonderful support for this project from a range of businesses, the Waitomo District Council, rugby fans and local people, and we are grateful to everyone who has helped in some way.”
International Visitors Witness Statue Unveiling
As well as former team mates, many International visitors made the passage to be a part of the ceremony. Heading that list was John Spencer, the Tour Manager for the British and Irish Lions. An opponent on the field, he made the trip along with so many International rugby fans who are in New Zealand.
Spencer relayed best wishes from across the world – from the great Gareth Edwards, Barry John, from JPR Williams, John Dawes, Bill Beaumont and legendary Irish locking rival Willie John McBride.
They all showed reverence to Sir Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads, a man who is currently battling pancreatic cancer. He has fought a torrid battle, and his family; as well as the thousands of admirers in attendance, would have all been pleased to see Sir Colin present. It was only in the days before the unveiling, that Stan knew his brother had the strength to attend.
“I’m sorry, I’m not as fit as I used to be,” Sir Colin said after reaching the podium to say a few words. He had been too ill to attend a book launch in Rotorua on Friday.
In Honor of a Rugby Legend: Sir Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads
What was evident from the numbers who attended, is the respect. Local schools closed, so students could witness the unveiling. With Sir Colin in poor health, it is tremendous that he was able to bear witness personally.
When considered, his and his brothers impact on the rugby landscape is now represented by the statue and exhibition. While it takes centre stage, the visitors will experience a sense of history, as they look back on the two men’s, and All Black history.
Yvette Ronaldson says “because it’s not just a celebration for Sir Colin and Stan and the Meads family, it’s also a celebration for Te Kuiti and we want as many people there as possible to enjoy the special day.”
As a sporting legend, historian Lindsay Knight refers to Meads as New Zealand’s equivalent of Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman, or the United States of America’s iconic Babe Ruth.
“Main photo credit”