Huntly's rugby league legends go on parade
One of Huntly's favourite sons, Lance Hohaia, led a parade of Waikato rugby league legends at the town's Christmas parade on Saturday.
There was an added attraction - the shiny Rugby League World Cup, won for the first time by the Kiwis in Australia last month, which Hohaia proudly showed off to hundreds of fans.
Hohaia's father, Rex, a Huntly league stalwart, organised the cup visit and six former Kiwi players and team members from Huntly and Ngaruawahia to join Lance and the cup on a float.
"It was phenomenal to have them in the town," Mr Hohaia said.
"Everyone was so excited. Lance was stoked. The boys were swamped afterwards with people wanting photographs and autographs." The ex-Kiwis on board were winger Ted Baker (1966-67), hooker Don Parkinson (1968), hooker Paul Ravlich (1979), prop Rick Muru (1980), stand-off Bill Kells (1980), and fullback Vaun O'Callaghan (1985).
Mr Hohaia said it was a special local celebration for the rugby league loving town.
"It's great to recognise the past Kiwis from the Waikato who wore the black and white jersey."
From a well-known rugby league family, Mr Hohaia said he had the sport running through his blood and was still involved in it.
"Hori Paki, my great-grand uncle, was the first Kiwi member of the family playing in 1921," Mr Hohaia said.
But he said he didn't think the enormity of last month's victory - where the Kiwis defied the odds to beat favourites Australia's 34-20 - had sunk in with Lance yet, though the reaction on Saturday helped.
Lance and the ex-Kiwis were among 30 floats and 20 food, music and gift stalls during the Christmas parade afternoon.