Meads part of New Zealand psyche - Mourie
As former All Black Graham Mourie was receiving his former school's highest award, he remembered Sir Colin Meads as a towering figure in the New Zealand psyche - but also a character.
Rugby great Meads died on Sunday morning from pancreatic cancer aged 81.
Mourie, who was welcomed to New Plymouth Boys' High School (NPBHS) on Monday with a rousing haka, said the loss of Meads the day before was "very sad".
He knew him more as a selector and older All Black, he said.
"People see Colin as a huge iconic figure, and he was, but I think when I got to know him he was a character and had a good sense of humour," Mourie said.
"Even to play in front of him was quite motivational."
He said he also wanted to mention Sir John Graham, another NPBHS Old Boy, who was an iconic figure to him.
"Both those guys are very strong figures in terms of rugby, but also in the New Zealand psyche."
Mourie played 61 games for the All Blacks from 1976 to 1982, captaining the team 57 times.
Born in Opunake he made both the Opunake High School and NPBHS 1st XVs and played 104 matches for Taranaki between 1975 to 1982.
In 1981 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014.
He said he was humbled to be honoured as an Alumni Meriti and joins an elite group of old boys that includes Sir Colin Giltrap, Sir John Graham, Sir Roderick Deane and Sir Graeme Douglas and Albert Wendt and David Levene.
"It's a bit unexpected; it's not something you think 47, 48 years ago I'd have to come back and stand in front of assembly," he joked.
"They must have taught me something because I couldn't have done it back then."
The 64-year-old said the biggest challenge facing young men was the changes with computers and technology coming into the picture.
"When I left school there was no unemployment," he said.
"Now we're moving into an age where just finding jobs and keeping people occupied is going to be the biggest thing. There's some massive changes coming up; I don't know if society's prepared.
"I've learned in life you never actually know what's around the next corner. Life has a habit of happening while you're doing other things."
He spoke to the 1200 students of his former high school at assembly about the two things they needed to get through life - resilience and your EQ (emotional intelligence), being able to get on with people.
This was more important than your IQ, he said.
"When I come back I think of the guys I played with," he said. "It's important to know that the friendships that you make at school actually carry on forever."
He said he had some great teachers at NPBHS, including rugby coach Max Carroll, even though he didn't let him play at loose forward to start with.
He told the boys even if their teachers seemed like "old farts", they were dedicated.
"You've got a toolbox...what it's there for is to fill that box up with things that will help you through life."
Life was going to change a lot in the next few years, he said.
"It's a bit like driving a car in the dark. You know you're going to Auckland but all you can see is the car lights and things suddenly pop out of the dark and you've got to deal with those things."
He said he will "cherish" the recognition.
"Enjoy life and just remember it's what's around the next corner that's important."
Headmaster Paul Veric said Mourie was not only a great All Black but also a great man.
"Honouring those who achieve excellence is important," he said.
"Strive for the stars, and if you have to settle for anything less, let it not be less than the highest peak on Mt Taranaki."