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Grandstand now buried

Ball boy Harrison Fergus, and ball girl, Keira Fergus seated on the front steps of the Mangatainoka RFC grandstand at the Hurricanes-Blues rugby match in February 2019. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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The charred remains of the 130-year-old Mangatainoka rugby club grandstand were scooped up and buried in a grave prepared in a paddock next to the rugby pitch a couple of weeks ago.

“It was all over in about 15 minutes, that’s it, that’s the end of an era, just like that,” Mangatainoka Domain Board chairman Mike Burmeister said. “It really needs a headstone
to be honest.”

The board got notice from the Tararua District Council that the unstable remains of the grandstand had to be dismantled within 10 days of the fire, purposely lit by an 18-year-old man.

Long-term board member Kerry Fergus said the grandstand was made of totara, rimu and matai. The 69-year-old has been on the board for 44 years and said they were not sure what was next for the grounds, but he would like to see some sort of pavilion go on the paddock.

“It is just so bloody sad,” Fergus said. “My grandmother used to take us kids to the grounds to play and we ran around and played on the grandstand.

“I was playing for Mangatainoka back in the heyday of the 1960s and 70s but highlights for the paddock were definitely when the Blues and Hurricanes clashed there more recently.”

The council had the building insured, but it was not settled yet as police reports were still to be included.

Fergus and manager of Tui hospitality Nick Rogers fought hard and long to get the grandstand into shape when it was starting to fall apart around 2008.

Rogers raised $70,000 to get the Mangatainoka landmark back to standard and generated the ideas behind getting the Hurricanes playing pre-season matches there from 2011.

The late Sir Colin Meads and Sir Brian Lochore were at the match with commentator Keith Quinn among the 8000-strong crowd.

“We don’t have much left here now,” Rogers said.

“The clubrooms are out at the Castlepoint golf course and the old church is at Rathkeale College.

“This was our icon. It was something to hold on to, it was a piece of history that was ours.”

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