Another legend of the north has passed with the sudden death of former All Black and Māori All Black Mike Burgoyne last week while he was overseas. Today Te Kāea attended his funeral ceremony.
Hundreds packed the Kaitaia centre today to farewell one of the Far North's famous sons.
“Māori and islanders, we're naturally athletic and love the open game and we loved big hits and that kind of ruggedness and Mike was all of that,” says Michael Jones, “So growing up I really looked up to him I thought he was the man and I think he was ahead of his time.”
A son of Ngāti Kahu, Mike rose from club rugby with Awanui to play beside some of the greats of New Zealand Rugby in the heyday when the North Auckland province held the Ranfurly Shield.
“I grew up just down the road in Kaeo and he was a hero for me when I was a young fella playing number seven,” says Eric Rush, “All us young sevens we looked up to him because he was the first one that actually ran with the ball and we always wanted to be like him. My sole goal in life was to play for North Auckland.”
“I was thinking, if he was playing in my day he would have really excelled. He probably would've kept me out of my position he was so good and even today- he'd really flourish in today’s rules.”
All up Mike Burgoyne played six games for the All Blacks and had eight appearances for the New Zealand Māori. Last week he died suddenly while in Fiji at the age of 65 leaving behind his wife, two daughters and grandchildren.
“And again I think it's a tribute to him that he retired so young,” says Jones, “He retired early because of his heart, for his whanau, to spend more time with his kids and his wife. I think for me that's probably the greatest legacy he leaves with me as a husband, as a father, is the sacrifices he made for his whanau.”
Today another great is laid to rest.