The New Zealand Herald

Unwanted event ‘blended’ players

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Alice Peacock

Otago University cricket team members who were on the Wahine travelling to a tournament gathered this week for their own special reunion.

Today marks 50 years since the ferry ran aground in Wellington Harbour, with 53 lives lost.

The cricketers were heading to the New Zealand Universiti­es Easter Tournament. They had never played together and as a result of the tragedy, never would.

All of them — the youngest was Alan McDougall, 19 — survived. Murray Parker and Murray Webb went on to play for New Zealand and others to law, teaching and caricaturi­st careers.

Speaking to the about the anniversar­y, Hutt Valley-based Gary Murphy said nine of the 11 players were in Wellington for the occasion.

Being based locally, Murphy had taken the reins in organising the reunion.

The players had travelled from near and far. One, Murray Leach, had flown in from London. The team met for a private dinner last night at a Wellington hotel, ahead of official commemorat­ive events today.

“It’s just an opportunit­y to get together and perhaps have a few speeches in a private room where we’re not sort of cutting across other people,” Murphy said.

He had been looking forward to seeing the others. Some he knew well, others only “fleetingly”.

Despite the fact they did not all keep in regular contact, Murphy said they did have “a bit of a bond”.

“You’ve come through a thing like the Wahine and I think that does bond you, you know.”

There was a dawn service in Eastbourne for those rememberin­g the tragedy and another service would be held at Seatoun a little later.

“I’ll go around to the Eastbourne

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