Re­tired but no plans to re­lax

Re­tired teacher and long-time Pa­pakowhai res­i­dent Denys Latham says re­tire­ment isn’t about re­lax­ing, it’s about mak­ing bet­ter choices on how to spend your time. The Porirua City coun­cil­lor and newly-elected pres­i­dent of the Welling­ton Rugby Union has a cu

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

How was the feel­ing when you were el­e­vated to the WRFU pres­i­dent’s role?

It was over­whelm­ing, some­thing that came out of the blue. I’d been a vice-pres­i­dent for a time, nom­i­nated by Pare­mataPlim­mer­ton, but this is a step up. It’s very hum­bling and there are some il­lus­tri­ous names who’ve come be­fore me, so I’ve got my fin­gers crossed that I can carry on that legacy.

Along with coach­ing Porirua Col­lege, you played and coached at Porirua (be­fore the amal­ga­ma­tion with Ti­tahi Bay), played at Tawa and were the coach­ing co-or­di­na­tor at Pare­mata-Plim­mer­ton. Where do your al­le­giances lie once the club sea­son starts?

I’m all over the place, truth be told, and I spread my­self around. I love spend­ing time at the Old Timers’ Day at each club, that’s where you see all the old faces. Norths are great, I love what’s hap­pen­ing at Tawa and ParePlim’s se­nior side had a won­der­ful sea­son last year. Geez, I wish they’d won that fi­nal [Se­nior 1, against Welling­ton]. I love club rugby, think it’s very strong in Welling­ton right now.

What was the high­est level of rugby you played?

I got to Manawatu Se­nior B, as a prop would you be­lieve. I came to Welling­ton [from Taranaki] in 1968, to teach at Porirua Col­lege and played for Tawa’s se­nior side.

Why did you get into coach­ing?

Just the thrill of help­ing peo­ple move from where they are to get some­where. It was the same rea­son I be­came a coach­ing co­or­di­na­tor – to help the ‘dad’ coaches do the right things by their play­ers. I’ve been a se­lec­tor in the Hur­ri­canes re­gion for NZ Sec­ondary Schools for a while and it’s great to see th­ese young guys coming through.

Who’s the best player you’ve seen on a rugby field and ever coached?

Ever seen? Chris­tian Cullen, ev­ery time he touched the ball some­thing was go­ing to hap­pen. Coached? There was a lad at Porirua in 1980/81 called Maa Koko, he was a No 8. We played Pe­tone and they had All Black winger Mike Clamp – he picked the ball up on the half­way line and went for the try­line but Maa chased him down and took him out. He was an 80-minute player, with re­lent­less speed, but he didn’t get se­lected [for Welling­ton] be­cause in those days they never looked north of Ngaru­anga Gorge.

How will the Hur­ri­canes go this sea­son?

They should im­prove on last year. [Prop] Jeff Toomaga-Allen could be an All Black and the Canes have plenty of tal­ent, they’re al­ways ex­cit­ing to watch. I’ve been a sea­son tick­etholder since 2000, I’m not a fair­weather fan, so I’ll be at all the home games. I’ve been in Welling­ton 45 years so that makes me a Lions and Canes fan.

To pol­i­tics – will you be stand­ing for Porirua City Coun­cil again?

I said I wanted three terms and, if I get back in, this will be my third. We have our ducks in a row in terms of our long term plan, rates, in­fra­struc­ture and the city cen­tre re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion, so the next three years will be key. The har­bour is such a big is­sue and Grant Baker and Keith Calder are do­ing great things there.

Do you want Porirua to be part of a su­per-city?

Lo­cal government can be both ex­cit­ing and frus­trat­ing, but I think there is a lot of water to go un­der the bridge yet.

Ratepay­ers will have a say, ab­so­lutely.

I’m not against amal­ga­ma­tion or re- or­gan­i­sa­tion but I want more ev­i­dence on why change is bet­ter.

You don’t mind the meet­ings, all the read­ing and po­ten­tial phone calls at all hours from Porirua ratepay­ers?

Not a bit, I’m really en­joy­ing it all, it’s giv­ing me an amaz­ing in­sight into what is go­ing on in the com­mu­nity.

Although I’m an east­ern ward coun­cil­lor, we have a city-wide fo­cus and you get a great un­der­stand­ing of where our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties lie and what the coun­cil can do to make it a bet­ter place to live, work and play. I en­joy go­ing to pub­lic meet­ings, talk­ing to peo­ple and work­ing with my coun­cil col­leagues. What else keeps you busy? Along with my rugby obli­ga­tions, I’m a vol­un­teer at the Whitby po­lice base, a vol­un­teer at the New Zealand Cricket Mu­seum and on the Derek Woot­ton Me­mo­rial and Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre trusts.

I don’t see it as re­tire­ment but a change in di­rec­tion, I’m in charge of my time.

I’m go­ing to Lords [ Cricket Ground] in May for a test match and just got back from do­ing the Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail, which was just mag­nif­i­cent.

DENYS LATHAM: I’m not against amal­ga­ma­tion or re-or­gan­i­sa­tion but I want more ev­i­dence on why change is bet­ter.

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