19 Jun 2017

Sir Colin Meads statue unveiled in Te Kuiti

6:09 pm on 19 June 2017

All Blacks great Sir Colin Meads has been immortalised in bronze with several thousand people estimated to have shown up in his hometown, Te Kuiti, for the statue's unveiling.

British and Irish Lions fans crowd the statue for a photo at the official unveiling of All Black legend Sir Colin Meads bronze statue, and opening of the Meads brothers exhibition in Te Kuiti.

British and Irish Lions fans crowd the statue for a photo at the official unveiling of All Black legend Sir Colin Meads bronze statue, and opening of the Meads brothers exhibition, in Te Kuiti. Photo: Photosport

Sir Colin, who was named 'Player of The Century' in 1999, played 133 games for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971.

There had been fears the man nicknamed Pinetree, who is ill with pancreatic cancer, would be too unwell to make today's ceremony but he did and was impressed by what he saw.

Colin Meads with Stan Meads and sculptor  Natalie Stamilla at the statue's unveiling.

Colin Meads with Stan Meads and sculptor Natalie Stamilla at the statue's unveiling. Photo: RNZ / Jo O'Brien

"Well, it's amazing how much detail she's gone into to get it because, I was just saying, even me bootlaces are done up how I used to lace them up too.

"So, you know, it's marvellous."

The statue of Colin Meads unveiled in Te Kuiti today.

The statue of Colin Meads unveiled in Te Kuiti today. Photo: RNZ / Jo O'Brien

Sculptor Natalie Stamilla spent two months working on the statue, which she said was an honour.

She told Sir Colin's brother Stan, another former All Black, she had done a lot of reading to research her subject.

Heavily pregnant with just a week before the birth, she said it had been touch and go whether she would be at the unveiling too.

Organiser Yvette Ronaldson, from volunteer group Legendary Te Kuiti, said the $500,000 statue was paid for by sponsorship, donations and fund-raising.

She said its worth would be seen in the tourism the statue would bring to the town.

"I think people love Colin and he is famous not only in New Zealand but worldwide - and I guess that was one of the reasons behind doing it is to bring people into our town.

"We're confident it will bring people into Te Kuiti."

Sir Colin's daughter-in-law Jo was one of those who helped prepare the Gallagher Meads Exhibition, which includes memorabilia from Colin and Stan Meads' days as All Blacks, for its opening today.

She said they wanted to do something for the Lions tour and the project had grown from there.

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