'Haere Ra', Mr Ian Milne san
28 Apr 2016 @ 3:30 UTC
A fitting tribute to a mighty fine and soon to be retired ANZAC ambassador and mate.
"You can't kill weeds!"
As with most International sporting events, the great occasion of International elite competition affords a great opportunity for respective cultures, creeds and flags and foes to converge in a mutually friendly and familiar setting and embrace.
This was no more evident than at the official 2016 Trans-Tasman welcome ceremony and function held in Auckland overnight.
The number of pleasantries and cultural exchanges marked symbolically, and at times beautifully, the great occasion of this year's series featuring the popular and very progressive inclusion of Japan into the Australasian biennial battle. Of particular highlight and note was the traditional Maori greeting from the local Maori elders and Polynesian strains and beats from the local house band.
But in amongst the speeches and brilliant renditions of Hakas, ceremonial greetings' and, well, some more questionable contemporary cultural renditions, was a truly stirring tribute. A tribute to a man of fine repute and a true stalwart of the sport in New Zealand and abroad.
This one will live long in the memory of this fine ambassador and his equally remarkable wife, Soyra. This quiet, retiring type would probably prefer it done any other way than a full-blown presentation in front a large audience, such is his humble and modest nature. That is, to quietly retire in a more subdued and discrete fashion.
But to everyone present and to all in the international community that know of the vast contributions of both he and his wife, Soyra, there could be nor more fitting opportunity and occasion.
"Again, you don't in my opinion do this for what you get out of it and to be appreciated in front of your peers and countries – who are like family to us all, is a great honour and privilege" he said.
"I was blown away that I received the plaque but inside the box was amazing; a blessed and rather large piece of Maori greenstone mere [traditional Maori weapon].
"I will certainly treasure this as I will the memory of reception in front of the marvellous community we have come to know and love."
'Pounamu', the Maori word for greenstone derives from New Zealand's South Island - some of them have a balance in them and a warmth which is the tradition for when they are blessed.
Affectionately known as "Milney" and widely regarded in New Zealand, Australia and across the world for his work as a volunteer at events including Trans-Tasman's, Touch World Cup's, some Pacific Nations events, he will, as they, be greatly missed.
Both CEOs of Touch Football Australian and Touch New Zealand [Joe Sprangers], were effusive in their praise of the great man and his long reputation and dedication.
"On behalf of the Touch Football Australia community this is outstanding recognition of Ian and Soyra, two marvellous supporters and contributors to touch Football across both sides of the Tasman" Maguire said following Sprangers' moving tribute and presentation to Ian.
"They are such dedicated volunteers and simply amazing people and a joy to work with along with Joe and the Touch New Zealand team."
And, as they also say, behind every great man… and in front and to the side of Ian is as always his lovely and equally regarded wife, Soyra.
From the global sport perspective, Bill Ker had it right on the money: "In the 46-member nations that form the federation, volunteers are the backbone of the sport and give their time and skills to each member nation in a willing manner," he said.
"None more so than Ian from New Zealand who after 20 years [NZ for the last 10], assisting NZ in a volunteer capacity with their tournament control has retired leaving a huge void left by Ian and will be temporarily filled by those whom he has up-skilled during his many roles working for New Zealand.
But fittingly, the final word goes to Soyra who has been side-by-side with Ian with his long and distinguished volunteer roles.
"Just because he is retiring, I'm not!" Soyra emphatically said at the announcement of Ian's pending retirement.
"So, we better find a way for him to be involved as I will still be going.
"Having said that he will always want to be involved in some fashion… you can't kill weeds!"
Nor would you think the weeds would grow under this man's feet for too long.
Article courtesy of Julian Buckmaster - @JulianTFA