Gone but not for­got­ten

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

Most peo­ple in Porirua will re­mem­ber what they were do­ing when they heard about Jerry Collins’ death.

When news came through on June 5 that Collins, a fa­mous All Black who had al­ways been proud of his Porirua roots, had died in a car crash in France, there was col­lec­tive shock.

Collins had reached the very top in his sport, but never for­got where he was from. It wasn’t un­usual to see him walk­ing around Porirua dur­ing trips back to New Zealand, jan­dals on, a smile never far away.

His death and that of his part­ner, Alana Madill, was a som­bre note dur­ing gen­eral pos­i­tiv­ity around the city cel­e­brat­ing 50 years.

Trib­utes flowed and glasses were raised for a man who scared op­po­nents on the rugby field from an early age, but who was re­mem­bered as a hum­ble and gen­tle soul. His death gal­vanised Porirua and em­pha­sised its sense of com­mu­nity.

Once Collins’ body was re­turned to New Zealand, pri­vate and pub­lic memo­ri­als were held. On June 14, a Walk for Jerry com­mu­nity march was held, from Wai­tan­girua Mall to Porirua Park, in his hon­our.

On a frosty night at Porirua Park on June 15, the sto­ries and laugh­ter flowed at an in­vi­teonly ser­vice, be­fore a pub­lic ser­vice was held at a packed Te Rau­paraha Arena two days later.

There was a who’s who of New Zealand rugby roy­alty hon­our­ing Collins and it matched trib­utes and recog­ni­tion for the All Blacks leg­end held around the world.

A con­sis­tent theme was the legacy he left at his beloved North­ern United. Cap­tain of Norths at just 18, he is cred­ited with stop­ping the flow of young rugby tal­ent to Welling­ton clubs by turn­ing out for his lo­cal club. His de­ci­sion led to the golden pe­riod of Norths rugby in the first decade of the 2000s.

In a photo that went vi­ral very quickly, Ma’a Nonu tweeted a pic­ture of Sonny Bill Wil­liams, Liam Mes­sam, Dan Carter, Jerome Kaino and him­self vis­it­ing Collins’ grave at Whenua Tapu Ceme­tery with the Webb El­lis Cup last month.


Jerry Collins – gone, but never for­got­ten.

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