Sir Howard in old school's special Ist XV

Two weeks before Sir Howard Morrison died, former schoolmates selected him as one of a small group of old boys worthy of being in a special "1st XV".

Tonight, the honour will be tinged with sadness, as Te Aute College remembers one of its most famous old boys just two weeks after his funeral.

The college will name Sir Howard, who died on September 24, in its Te Aute College 1st XV leaders group for 2009, at a function at Te Papa in Wellington. The honour is given to former pupils over the age of 55, who have made a significant contribution to Maoridom.

Sir Howard fails to meet one other guideline – members of the group must still be alive – but the organisers felt they could not exclude him.

The group was selected by former Te Aute College principal Te Aorere Riddell, present Te Aute College Board of Trustees chairman John Tangaere, and kaumatua Eric Niania. The selectors picked their team before Sir Howard's death and refused to exclude him after his burial at Kaue Cemetery in Ngongotaha on September 29 .

Sir Howard attended Te Aute College, south of Hastings, in 1949. Other old boys include late leaders such as Sir Apirana Ngata and Sir Maui Pomare, who were not considered for selection in the leaders' 1st XV.

Family spokesman Monty Morrison, Sir Howard's nephew, said members of the late entertainer's family, including his daughter Donna, would be at the Te Papa function tonight.

The team is also likely to include Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, knights of the realm, war heroes, professors, doctors, former All Blacks, iwi leaders, entertainers and artists.

The Dominion Post