For ser­vice to sport

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

KIWI sport­ing hero Sir Murray Hal­berg is happy to share the credit for his life­time of achieve­ments.

“What­ever suc­cess I’ve had was be­cause of good coach­ing or train­ing part­ners and com­peti­tors,” he says.

“I’ve been able to ride on the suc­cess of my ath­letic ca­reer to put to­gether this char­ity.”

Sir Murray was ap­pointed to the Or­der of New Zealand on Mon­day for his ded­i­ca­tion to ath­let­ics and the es­tab­lish­ment of the Hal­berg Trust.

Though born in Eke­tahuna, Sir Murray says he’s an Auck­lan­der through and through.

He grew up in Mt Al­bert, at­tend­ing Pt Che­va­lier Pri­mary and Avon­dale Col­lege.

It was at Avon­dale, he says, where his love of sport be­gan.

“It’s al­ways been a good nurs­ery for sport,” he says.

He has seen the city go through many changes.

He re­mem­bers tak­ing his wife Phyl­lis to Pt Erin park while they were still court­ing and watch­ing the fi­nal sec­tion of the har­bour bridge be­ing low­ered into po­si­tion.

“I’ve lived through all of that,” he says.

“In those days if we owned a car that could get over the har­bour bridge in top gear we were con­sid­ered to be very lucky.”

He now di­vides his time be­tween his house in Ep­som and a home on Wai­heke Is­land.

Sir Murray’s sport­ing ac­com­plish­ments are well­known to many New Zealan­ders.

He first made his mark in the 1950s as a world class miler and has a raft of im­pres­sive wins un­der his belt, in­clud­ing win­ning the New Zealand three-mile cham­pi­onship five times be­tween 1958 and 1962 and set­ting mul­ti­ple records.

His great­est suc­cess was win­ning the gold medal for the 5000 me­tres at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, which he still con­sid­ers the pin­na­cle of his sport­ing ca­reer.

“I was a very blink­ered young man.

“It had been my fo­cus for some years to win gold.”

But his sport­ing achieve­ments are only part of the mark he has left on the coun­try.

In 1963 he es­tab­lished the Murray Hal­berg Trust for Crip­pled Chil­dren, now known as the Hal­berg Trust.

The Hal­berg Trust took over man­age­ment of the New Zealand Sports­man of the Year Award, to­day known as the Hal­berg Awards.

The idea to start the trust came af­ter a trip to a Toronto fundrais­ing event for dis­abled chil­dren in­volved in sport.

One of the first steps he took was to res­ur­rect the Sports­man of the Year Award, which had been dis­con­tin­ued.

At the time the award was held by sport­ing leg­end and close friend Peter Snell and he put the idea to him.

“I said ‘So what do you reckon mate?’ and he just said ‘Here you go Muzz’, and handed the award over.”

To­day the trust con­tin­ues to build on its vi­sion of giv­ing equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to dis­abled chil­dren in­volved in sport.

The pro­grammes pro­vide fa­cil­i­ties and spe­cial train­ing and equip­ment to en­sure they can take part.

Al­though re­tired, Sir Murray is still heav­ily in­volved in the trust through his po­si­tion on its board.

His hope is that one day ath­letes with dis­abil­i­ties will be seen as sports­men and women in their own right, “not just as a dis­abled per­son who can do sport”.

Ac­cept­ing the hon­our that comes with this award, he says, is recog­ni­tion of what the Hal­berg Trust is all about.

He says the ap­point­ment is par­tic­u­larly spe­cial be­cause there can be only 20 liv­ing mem­bers of the Or­der of New Zealand at a time.

But he is hum­ble in ac­cept­ing it and says the real plea­sure will come from spend­ing this time with fam­ily.

“Plenty of food and a glass or two of wine.

“You can’t want a great deal more than that,” Sir Murray says.

Photo: DO­MIN­ION POST

Hon­oured: Sir Murray Hal­berg’s ded­i­ca­tion to ath­let­ics and the Hal­berg Trust has seen him ap­pointed to the Or­der of New Zealand in the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours.

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