Life story

Life Story: West Coast Rugby Pillar Andy Henderson

OBITUARY: Andrew Duncan Henderson was one of the most valued volunteers in the Hokitika rugby community. Known to all as Andy, he has lived his whole life in Cass Square, the birthplace of rugby in the small west coast town.

Born in 1944 to Boxer and Edna, Henderson was one of four children, with Tom, Pam coming first and Dulcie coming later.

From an early age he was heavily involved in rugby and cricket, representing the coast in both over the years, but the Kiwi Rugby Football Club in Hokitika was his first love which continued throughout. of his life.

After school, Henderson began to work in the post office – he went through all the departments.

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Henderson met and married Libby and together made a home in Brittan St, where they raised their three children Tracey, Rhonda and Mike.

After his post office life, Henderson ran the delivery section of the West Coast Times and later served as manager of the Chanter Club. He was still working at the club bar and was a relief mailman in the early 70s.

Henderson, pictured left, at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim in 1966, during a Seddon Shield match against Marlborough.

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Henderson, pictured left, at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim in 1966, during a Seddon Shield match against Marlborough.

Henderson later remarried, living with Di Henderson in Stafford St where they built an extra floor on the house to make room for all his rugby memorabilia, even adding a balcony so he could admire his well- loved Cass Square.

“I also caught the bug so we decided to build an upper floor on the house just for his rugby stuff.

“People visited and were amazed. Colin Meads came home and had breakfast and signed the wall, and some of the Highlanders came and signed it too, like Taine Randall and Anton Oliver,” she said.

When they sold the house, the person who bought it cut the piece off the wall and gave it back to him, much to his delight.

She said his “great love” was the 1956 Springbok tour, about which he could answer any question, and that he had spent much of his life in Cass Square.

Henderson worked at the Hokitika Post Office and in newspaper distribution

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Henderson worked at the Hokitika Post Office and in newspaper distribution

“He has coached teams from children to seniors. He got up on freezing mornings to go to Cass Square for years and years. He’s lived one block from Cass Square all his life. It was in his blood.

She said that even after their separation, they remained good friends.

“He was a real legend. A great man,” she said.

Henderson was a life member of the Kiwi Rugby Club and the West Coast Rugby Union, serving as chairman and then patron of the Kiwi Club.

Son Mike said his father enjoyed traveling with another later partner, Di Sharpe, whom he treasured, especially on their annual trip to Glenorchy, where he swam in the sunshine, and a trip to Samoa for a rugby match .

“I’m sure any Hokitika will miss her cheeky smile and equally cheeky quick wit,” he said.

Henderson made his West Coast debut in 1965 against Auckland.

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Henderson made his West Coast debut in 1965 against Auckland.

His friend Adam Gilshnan said Henderson played 14 times for the West Coast between 1965 and 1969, scoring 42 points from six penalties and 12 conversions, while representing West Coast-Buller against a Canterbury XV in 1969, when he initiated two conversions.

The Rugby Almanac for the 1969 season included him as one of the West Coast’s leading players, calling him “a solid and reliable full-back”.

Gilshnan, an equally passionate rugby collector, said that before his death, Henderson had very kindly donated wonderful memories to him.

Wearing his treasured number 15 shirt from his playing days for the West Coast, Henderson presented him with a 2000 West Coast shirt the team wore when they played Waikato for the first Ranfurly Shield challenge of this century, Gilshnan said.

Henderson (left) wearing his treasured number 15 shirt that he wore when he played for the West Coast with Adam Gilshnan.

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Henderson (left) wearing his treasured number 15 shirt that he wore when he played for the West Coast with Adam Gilshnan.

“He was a very proud life member of the Kiwi Rugby Club in Hokitika and the West Coast Rugby Union, which shows how much he gave to the game here on the coast, both at club and provincial level,” Gilshnan said.

“Henderson made his west coast debut in 1965 against Auckland, who were quite an austere side to play first, especially on the back against a few All Blacks that day, at least two, Waka Nathan and Mac Herewini, who were pretty famous players.

Mike Keenan, Fergie McCormick (excellent Canterbury and All Blacks) and Henderson

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Mike Keenan, Fergie McCormick (excellent Canterbury and All Blacks) and Henderson

“Andy and I struck up a friendship through our love of rugby. Whenever he walked into the club rooms I would always approach him and we would talk about the game. He was highly respected and loved all over the coast west and beyond.

“He spent thousands of hours of his time volunteering and watching games. His passion for the game was inspiring and what he did for the Kiwi Club was simply amazing. It was amazing what he did. »

Henderson made his West Coast debut at Cass Square and played his final game there, so it was the perfect location for his funeral, which was held on February 28.

“It was an honor and a lesson in humility to officiate there. I said just for the day that we are going to rename Cass Square Andy Henderson Park,” Gilshnan said.

Henderson said goodbye during a service at his beloved Cass Square in Hokitika

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Henderson said goodbye during a service at his beloved Cass Square in Hokitika


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