Athletic Park remembered

BY DANIEL HOLLAND
Last updated 12:30 21/09/2011
Rugby memories
DANIEL HOLLAND

Rugby memories: South Wellington Intermediate pupils Cole Robinson, Tom Lockwood-Jones and Shae Patel show off their artwork.

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Village at the Park retirement home in Newtown is celebrating its hallowed place in rugby history.

There will be a cocktail party on September 22 and on September 29 South Wellington Intermediate School pupils will get the chance to meet Wellington veterans Inoke Afeaki and Scott Keith.

The retirement home is situated on the former Athletic Park site, which is considered to be the historical heart of Wellington rugby.

Athletic Park was famous for the steep Millard Grandstand that swayed in strong wind. Perhaps the most notable occasion was the test between New Zealand and France in 1961 when hurricane strength gales nearly forced the match to be abandoned.

This month's celebrations have been organised to coincide with the World Cup and to pay tribute to the roots of New Zealand rugby.

On the cocktail night there will be photographs and residents' artwork on display commemorating memorable moments at the park.

South Wellington Intermediate School pupils have made a giant jigsaw puzzle painted with World Cup team colours, and their artwork, plus interviews with residents about their memories of Athletic Park will also on display.

The chairman of the Village at the Park's resident's committee, David Dobson, said it was a nice historical discussion for the residents to have. "They feel that it's very important to the area."

Athletic Park has hosted many famous guests, including the Queen during her visit to New Zealand in 1953, Pope John Paul II in 1986,  and music groups such as KISS and Dire Straits.

Village at the Park resident Judith White, whose father organised 30,000 children to sing for the Queen, still has mixed feelings about rugby after protesting the 1981 Springbok tour, but said: "It's good for a sense of identity for the area. The residents are very excited about it."

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