25 Mar 2016

Porirua stadium renamed after Jerry Collins

3:07 pm on 25 March 2016

Porirua Park Stadium is now officially known as Jerry Collins Stadium.

About 200 people gathered in Porirua this morning as a stadium was renamed after the former All Black Jerry Collins.

Mr Collins died in a car crash in France last June, in which his partner also died.

Before the ceremony, Ngati Toa kaumatua Taku Parai welcomed the guests and blessed the stadium.

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Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

"I want to express my love and thanks to the Collins family for inviting and offering this wonderful opportunity to bless these photos, and particularly the stand in honour of Jerry.

"To be able to come here and support our community... as we celebrate the life of Jerry and remember both him and his wife."

Porirua's mayor Nick Leggett said the name change was the right way way to acknowledge Jerry Collins' legacy and the outpouring of grief and love after he died.

Addressing the Collins family, Mr Leggett said 'today is Porirua's way of showing our love for your son and brother, and his memory'.

"Jerry was a true Porirua original, not just as a rugby player but as a man," he said. " kind and generous free spirit, a hero to us all".

"Naming and unveiling a plaque in his honour is testament to the esteem [in which] he is held across our city, across our nation and across the world.

"We hope this gesture will stand as an enduring reminder of the pride and affection we feel for your son and brother in this community."

Jerry Collins' father, Frank Collins, thanked the Porirua community for the support and help given to the family.

Jerry Collins' father, Frank Collins.

Jerry Collins' father, Frank Collins. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Mr Collins said he had spent Saturday mornings at the park since Jerry was six-years-old.

"This park over here, that's where Jerry started playing rugby. He was six-years-old, but he played under-sevens," he said.

At that time, there was no stadium, only a bank.

Mr Collins said he would stand under the same tree, and give the players oranges at half-time.

"The bad thing about it is I didn't have time to say goodbye," he said.

"But I know he's still with us, no matter what we do. He's over here with us today, he's quite happy and it's a great feeling [for] us.

"It's a special day for our family and friends, seeing the beautiful stadium," he said.

Mr and Mrs Collins unveiled the plaque, which was blessed by Taku Parai.

Members of the Northern United Rugby Club, which has clubrooms at the stadium, were also at the ceremony.

After the unveiling, members of the club performed a haka for Jerry Collins.

Members of the Northern United Rugby Club perform a haka at the ceremony.

Members of the Northern United Rugby Club perform a haka at the ceremony. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Zechariah Reuelu, whose son plays at the club, said Jerry Collins' legacy showed things were possible for those from Porirua.

He said Mr Collins was more than a son to the community; he was an icon.

"He never lost himself, he was always true to himself, even with what he achieved through the Hurricanes and the All Blacks, he never forgot about home, the values, the people who helped set his career and path.

"He always gave a lot of himself, his life, his family and his time and resources to bring back to the community," he said.

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Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Desiree Pretty said she once had the pleasure to party with Jerry Collins in Wellington.

"He was such a nice man, and it was such a sad loss and I feel for the Collins family today," Miss Pretty said.

Local woman Petra Nyamangwamda said everyone in the area was was proud of Jerry.

"We are so proud that he put his heart to it, and this is how far he went. Naming [the stadium] after Jerry Collins is just showing his excellent spirit," she said.

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