Volunteers work to get Memorial Park looking its best ahead of Sir Brian Lochore’s funeral. PHOTO/ELI HILL

New Zealand prepares to mourn Sir Brian
Early arrival recommended

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

Today’s funeral for Sir Brian Lochore at Memorial Park is set to be the biggest in the history of Masterton and the region.

More than 5000 people from around New Zealand and the world are expected to attend, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

A host of former All Blacks will be present, including members of the 1987 team, which Sir Brian coached to the inaugural Rugby World Cup.

Sir Brian, a member of the Order of New Zealand, and a former All Blacks captain, coach, and manager, died peacefully at his home in Wairarapa on Saturday after a battle with bowel cancer. He was 78.

Ardern will be joined by Sports Minister Grant Robertson and other political representatives.

The event has been planned by Sir Brian’s family.

The service is scheduled to begin at 1pm, and is likely to last around 90 minutes, before a private burial.

Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union called in volunteers from clubs and the community on Tuesday to ensure Memorial Park, including the Sir Brian Lochore Stand, was in top condition.

Chief executive Tony Hargood said a big attendance was expected “due to Sir Brian’s stature”.

“We welcome our community to come to Memorial Park and celebrate Sir Brian’s unparalleled accomplishments for our community, New Zealand, and world, rugby.

“We encourage people to attend early as we expect a capacity attendance at the stadium.”

Those attending should be seated by 12.45pm.

The Sir Brian Lochore Stand, with 1200 seats, will be open to the public, along with bleachers to the south and north of the grandstand.

The lower seats in front of the grandstand are reserved.

Entry to the main grandstand is through the two front stairwells, and to the bleachers via the gates on the northern and southern end of the grandstand.

Roads around Memorial Park will be closed at times before, during, and after the service [details below].

A shuttle bus will run to the stadium from Farriers Restaurant, on Queen St, from 11.30am to 12.15pm. Return transport will be provided after the service.

While secondary schools around the region will remain open, many are allowing students and staff to attend the funeral if they wish.

St Matthew’s Collegiate, Rathkeale, Kuranui, Solway, and Makoura colleges are all allowing students and staff to attend, and many are sending contingents to represent their schools.

Wairarapa College prefects and the school’s First XV will attend and may perform a haka.

Books of remembrance will be available at the park today.

Attendees are welcome to sign these on arrival, or after the service.

Road closures

Road closures in the area on Thursday, from noon to 3.30pm, include Dixon St, from the southern side of McKenna Street to the northern side of Herbert St, Harlequin St [from Dixon to Queen St], and Russell St [from Dixon St to Queen St].

After the service, rolling closures from 2.30pm to 3.30pm are Dixon St [from the southern side of McKenna St to the northern side of Herbert St], Herbert St [from Dixon St to Colombo Road], Colombo Road [from Herbert St to Church St], and Church St [from Colombo Road to River Road].