Our Rugby League Museum is located at 7 Beasley Ave, Penrose, Auckland.
Alan Messenger is the new NZRL Museum Manager at the Penrose headquarters.
Messenger has a strong sporting background which includes Sales and Marketing roles within various business sectors.
“I view the new role as very interesting and rewarding – the information within the museum holds years of history which can only be for the better of the game if held and displayed for as many as possible to see,” he says.
Alan invites anyone who is interested to call in and explore the years of history available in the NZRL museum.
The museum hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – 11am to 3pm or special viewings can be arranged
When Sports minister Jonathan Coleman dropped by to officially open the NZRL Museum extensions, he was careful to pay homage to his family rugby league connection.
The Jack Fagan Room, named after one of the museums founding fathers who died last November, was previously the NZ Kiwis storage room, but now houses several new exhibits, including a Maori Rugby League display.
The new museum wing also stands as a tribute to another driving force behind the facility and another former Kiwi, Brian Speedy Reidy, who also passed away in June.
Coleman offered his condolences to the families of both these loyal servants of the game and revealed his own personal piece of league history.
Kiwi #98 Stan Walters, who played eight tests from 1913-21, was the ministers grandmothers cousin.
“Theres a bit of a family story, so I was really pleased to come to the museum, because I wanted to find out a bit more about him,” said Coleman. “So my grandmother was very excited, because she was going to the Auckland Domain to see her cousin play.
“She was so excited, she invited her boyfriend at the time to come along and watch the test match. Things were going quite well, until an opposition player ended up unconscious on the floor of the domain, the ref turned around and Stan Walters was being marched back to the dressing rooms, not to appear again.
“This was obviously a huge family disgrace and a major embarrassment, but fortunately, the boyfriend stayed around and became my grandfather. So, as a result, ‘Im here.
Coleman acknowledged rugby leagues part in the social fabric of New Zealand, and lamented the perception that it began and ended with the NRL.
“I think it’s very important to know the history of our major sporting codes. When you think about the times when 40,000 people used to go to Carlaw Park and, before that, the Auckland Domain to see the Kiwis, and what the game brought to a lot of working people, it’s very important that that history is understood.”
In greeting the minister and other visitors to the new extension, museum committee chairman John Bray paid tribute to his former colleagues and team-mates Fagan (Kiwi #401) and Reidy (Kiwi #383) for their vision and direction of the project.
“They were great, outstanding rugby league players and great, outstanding administrators,” said Bray. “They helped the game at all levels, but not only were they great players and administrators, they were great people and I’d like to think rugby league helped shape their character.
“It is with great pleasure that their families are here and we acknowledge them today.”
Coleman also had some soothing words for those family members.
“I know that this will be a very poignant day for you all. I know Brian and Jack didn’t pass away that long ago, so your feelings will be fairly raw.
“I hope this day and this acknowledgement of your husbands, grandfathers, fathers contributions to New Zealand rugby league will go some way to helping you come to terms with what I’m sure has been quite a difficult year.”
Bray hinted there were further improvements planned for the museum, including increased interactivity to cater for the younger generations passing through.
The NZRL Museum, located at 7 Beasley Ave, Penrose, is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but is also available by appointment for tours or functions. Simply phone Alan Messenger (+64 9 571 3857) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRIAN REIDY’S BOOTS FROM 1961 EUROPEAN TOUR (Don Hammond)
The boots have sharp aluminium sprigs that the players had to nail in before a game.
When asked if it hurt to be rucked by one of these, Hammond replies that it “hurt a lot less then than the leather sprigs they had even before that”.
CAPTAIN WILLIAM JOHN MCNEIGHT’S 1938 JERSEY (Don Hammond)
These jerseys were the first to have the white “V” around the collar and were also were the first instance of having the silver fern point out towards the sleeve.
The jersey was donated by a member of McNeight’s family and is currently the second-oldest jersey in the museum’s possession.
RUBEN WIKI & TANA UMAGA JERSEYS & PHOTOGRAPH (Don Hammond)
This exhibit marks a nice coming together of both codes from two great New Zealand icons.
The photograph was actually donated to the museum by Ruben Wiki himself.
1930 COURTNEY FOOTBALL TROPHY (Don Hammond)
This trophy was originally given to the Kiwis by R O Courtney Esq in appreciation for allowing him to come on tour to Australia. The trophy was played for in an inter-island competition within New Zealand.
COURTNEY TRANS-TASMAN TROPHY (Don Hammond)
This trophy features an elaborate silver cup on top of a beautiful wooden stand. The stand contains a variety of native woods from both Australia and New Zealand, as well as paua inlays. The trophy was last contested in 1972.