Fitting farewell for sports fan
When one of Horowhenua-Ka¯piti rugby and cricket’s biggest supporters Bruce Martin was farewelled, the dress code reflected the man.
At his request, people wore rugby and cricket attire for the funeral on Saturday. Guests obliged, many wearing the uniforms of Martin’s beloved Weraroa Cricket Club and Athletic Rugby Football Club.
At least 250 people turned out to the Levin Domain to pay their respects to Martin, 68, who died on October 31 following a battle with spinal cancer.
The ‘‘officiating referee and umpire’’ of the funeral service was patron of the Weraroa club and one of Martin’s longtime friends, Ken Swain.
Martin’s previous visit to the Domain was on October 21 when he got to see the HorowhenuaKa¯piti provincial rugby team beat Buller, 18-17, to become first-time finalists in a Heartland Championship.
Unfortunately he was not well enough the following Saturday to attend the deciding match for the Meads Cup, retained by defending champions Wanganui, 30-14.
Two weeks prior Martin fea- tured in a Stuff article after the Horowhenua-Ka¯piti provincial rugby team visited him at the Levin Home for War Veterans where he had lived for just over a month.
Coach Chris Wilton said they had made several visits, following Tuesday night trainings, to show their appreciation for Martin’s years of involvement with the team. ‘‘We could see his health deteriorating and even though he was in pain he’d make the situation easier for the boys, always coming out with something funny, with him being the character he was.’’
During the team’s final visit on October 24, Martin persuaded them to do a haka – something Wilton said they were reluctant to do, with rest homes being ‘‘very quiet places at 9.30pm’’.
However, Wilton said they decided to go ahead and also give it 100 per cent, ‘‘unleashing a loudas haka’’.
On the way to Saturday’s funeral, Martin was driven around to his old Levin sporting venues – his homes away from home – the Weraroa Domain, Playford Park, and Donnelly
Park. He was also taken to Levana, formerly Jersey Fabrics, his workplace for many years.
In the opening tribute, Ken Swain said that during their representative cricket playing days Martin was always dedicated to his team and club.
‘‘In later years he particularly enjoyed the working bees at the start of the season and he loved to help prepare the wickets on the Weraroa Domain, especially using the cricket pitch reel mower.’’
Swain said Martin was also known for riding his bike through Levin. ‘‘Bruce went everywhere on it and because he was such a likeable bloke, people got to know him.’’
Martin was the oldest of four siblings, and he also had four halfsiblings.
Sister Heather Martin said he had no children of his own, but was ‘‘absolutely adored’’ by his nieces and nephews.
Horowhenua District Council had no records of another funeral being held previously at the Levin Domain. Parks and property manager Arthur Nelson said the council would generally not sanction such use of the facility.
‘‘However, in this particular case there was a strong view in the local sporting community that such a celebration was fitting because of the strong influence that Bruce Martin had on rugby and cricket in the district.’’
See MORE PHOTOS, page 10
Weraroa Cricket Club members salute at the end of Bruce Martin’s funeral at Levin Domain on Saturday. Left, Martin with the Bruce Steel trophy.