Porirua to mark first anniversary of Jerry Collins' passing

By Ripeka Timutimu

It's been one year since former All Black, Jerry Collins and his partner Alana Madill died tragically in a car accident in France.  Commemorations for the couple kick off tonight at the Norths United Rugby Club in Porirua.

When Jerry Collins was brought on to the Norths United Rugby Club last year, there wasn't a dry eye to be seen. For the next three days Collins will again take centre stage at the club.

Jacob Ellison (Ngati Toa) says, “I think they'll be a few beers floating around, but there's also junior rugby so we'll be trying not to burn the candle at both ends to put on a good show for the whole weekend.”

The Ellison brothers, Tamati and Jacob grew up at the club watching Collins plough his trade. Tamati says he was an absolute legend.

“For people in Porirua we saw it all the time. He'd get off the plane and maybe had played for the Barbarians and comes to training, and nowadays you can't do that, but he always put community first and professional second.”

The passing of Collins and Madill made headlines around the world. The club rallied together to support the Collins family in their darkest hour.

Jacob Ellison says, “They are always here helping out Norths.  In the past year Helen and Brenda have been heavily involved with the women's team and the wider club.”

This weekend it's expected Collins’ and Madill's daughter, Ayla will be in attendance. No doubt many memories will be shared about her father.

Tamati Ellison says, ““The next few days is to remind ourselves of that.  The kākano of rugby starts in the community, and that’s what tomorrow is about, continuing to grow that seed that he planted in Porirua.”

Commemorations at the Norths United Club in Porirua will kick off this evening.