All Blacks cap­tain farewelled with­haka

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - STAFF RE­PORTER

Sir John Gra­ham was farewelled with a 2500-strong haka at the end of a fu­neral ser­vice cel­e­brat­ing his con­tri­bu­tion to sports and ed­u­ca­tion as a former All Black cap­tain, NZ Cricket man­ager, univer­sity chan­cel­lor and Auck­land Gram­mar school head­mas­ter.

Auck­land Gram­mar School stu­dents silently filed into the court­yard out­side St. Mary’s Cathe­dral Church on Mon­day.

A group of 80 stu­dents turned into a crowd of 2500 in one hour, all pa­tiently wait­ing to greet the ex­it­ing mourn­ers and Gra­ham’s cof­fin with a haka that re­ver­ber­ated around the Auck­land sub­urb of Par­nell, caus­ing pass­ing mo­torists to slow down.

It was a rous­ing end to a ser­vice that would have made Gra­ham, known as DJ, ‘‘ex­cep­tion­ally happy’’, ac­cord­ing to former All Black coach Sir Gra­ham Henry.

‘‘I won­dered whether the church was go­ing to big enough and all those sorts of things, and per­haps it wasn’t, but that’s what DJ wanted,’’ Henry said.

‘‘He would have said ‘no fuss, let’s get on with it, one hour will be enough, three speeches’.’’

Gra­ham’s his­tory at Auck­land Gram­mar was well known but per­haps less well known was his work at South­ern Cross cam­pus, in Man­gere, which had caused the ‘‘black and white’’ Gra­ham to change some of his own val­ues, ac­cord­ing to Henry.

Henry said Gra­ham had a ‘‘gruff ex­te­rior’’ but un­der­stood peo­ple and felt great com­pas­sion for them.

‘‘He prob­a­bly as­sisted more peo­ple than any­body else I know.’’

Gra­ham was knighted for his ser­vices to ed­u­ca­tion and sports in 2011.

The mourn­ers at his fu­neral re­flected on the wide im­pact he had on the coun­try with former Prime Min­is­ter Sir John Key, also man­aged the New Zealand cricket team from 1997 to 1999.

He put New Zealand’s in­fat­u­a­tion with rugby into per­spec­tive.

‘‘I don’t think rugby union is any­where near as im­por­tant in this coun­try as solv­ing the prob­lems of poverty and unem­ploy­ment.’’

SUP­PLIED

The roar of the haka for Sir John Gra­ham was heard for kilo­me­tres around.

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