We are heading south today in the direction of New Plymouth, the weather is good and we get a very early start.
The idea is to get some kilometres behind us and then find somewhere interesting to stop for breakfast.
One of the places we pass through is Te Kuiti and I wasn’t at all surprised to see references in the town to it’s most famous son: Colin Meads.
Even if, (like me) you don’t particularly follow New Zealand’s national sport of Rugby, you would still surely know that Colin Earl Meads (born 1936) is regarded as one of the best players in rugby history.
Nicknamed ”pinetree Meads” he was born in the Waikato but was raised on the family farm in Te Kuiti where he credited the hard physical labour of farm work for building up his renowned strength, strong physique and high level of fitness.
Meads played 55 test matches (133 total games), most frequently in the lock forward position, for the national team the All Blacks, from 1957 until 1971.One of Meads’ sons, Glynn (nicknamed “‘Pinecone’ Meads) also went on to play rugby for the King Country region.
His strength and high threshold for pain became legendary — best illustrated when in a game against Eastern Transvaal in South Africa, in which he emerged from a particularly vicious ruck with his arm dangling horribly and obvious fracture, yet completed the match. When the doctor cut away his shirt and confirmed the break, Meads muttered, “At least we won the bloody game.”
Meads had the reputation of being “an enforcer” and was involved in some controversial incidents. In 1967, he was sent off by Irish referee for dangerous play against Scotland at Murrayfield, and became only the second All Black suspended in a test match.
The British Daily Telegraph newspaper said of the incident that ‘For once with Meads’ worldwide reputation for robust play, “this was rather like sending a burglar to prison for a parking offence.”
The trophy contested in New Zealand’s domestic competition, the Heartland Championship, is named the Meads Cup in his honour.
The All Blacks website states ‘As a sporting legend Meads is New Zealand’s equivalent of Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman or the United States of America’s Babe Ruth.’
I just knew that Rugby would be considered ” the only real sport” in a place like Te Kuiti, but as someone who hails from a family with European influences and therefore a football fan I still had to laugh out loud when I saw the following sign on the roadside. (my photo is a little blurry since it’s taken from the moving car) but it says: ”Welcome to Meadsville , leave all soccer balls in the bins provided“.
In true Kiwi fashion Meads retains his sense of down to earth informality and in line with his preference, locals call him either ‘Meads”or “Tree” when they see him.
I also see from another sign that Te Kuiti is the “(sheep) Shearing Capital of the World”.. Haha ! wow Who Knew?!
We smile too at the Christmas good wishes in a paddock… and at the area’s version of the “Big Apple”… Let’s look around…