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Legend was much more than man-of-the-match


By Geoff Vause

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Greg Karaitiana was much more than a rugby legend.

To his large whanau, he starred as a husband, father, brother, grandfather and uncle, and a valued friend to all of them and his community.

Several hundred people gathered for his funeral at Masterton’s Rosewood Funeral Home yesterday as he was carried in by workmates from Juken New Zealand for the ceremony conducted by Reverend Marie Collin.

The recent greats of Wairarapa rugby were on hand to farewell the flying winger who evaded so many of them on the field. All Black great and former coach Sir Brian Lochore was there to quietly pay his respects and support Greg’s family.

While various speakers noted Greg’s prowess on the rugby field it soon became evident his playing days for Masterton, Wairarapa Maori and Wairarapa Bush were a small part of a complete man.

The ceremony for the 58-year-old was carried by his children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, with each of the grandchildren describing themselves as the “favourite” with the dry humour practised by Greg and treasured by the wider Karaitiana whanau.

Each of the rangitahi knew of his status as a sportsman, and each one spoke of the friendship he readily developed with them as individuals, their testimony showing the gentle depth of his life.

Granddaughter Beau-Leah Karaitiana said when she read about her grandfather’s rugby exploits in the newspaper after his death it reminded her how much more he was in person.

“He was never selfish,” she said. “Losing him is a big shock for all of us.”

Each of the speakers illuminated “a humble, gracious and caring man, who planted seeds in us to hand on to our kids – that’s what a legend does, he never dies as everyone shares their stories about you”.

Beau-Leah was supported by her schoolmates at Masterton Intermediate School who performed the recently-composed haka Ko Wairarapa as Greg’s coffin was carried from the service.

A star on the field, and a true man-of-the-match for everyone who knew him.


  1. Our father had a beautiful send off. . he would have shed tears at the love shown by all who spoke of him, along with those who paid their respects. We knew what a kind hearted and humble man he was, but to hear others tributes say the same made us even prouder to be his children. He touched many lives in many ways leaving memories with every person he incountered. He will be sorely missed especially by his mum our mum, ourselves, his siblings, nephews and nieces and his grandchildren. One day at a time whanau. Love to you all xx

  2. Sorry to hear about Gregs passing , great memories of playing with Greg and Wairarapa Bush my deepest condolences to his family .Regards Andy Earl

  3. My uncle rest easy aunty will be ok, we all love and miss u while you pass on to your new journey in the afterlife forever in our hearts we will all meet again I love you uncle Greg xx ❤

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