From The Sideline with Ferg

From The Sideline with Ferg 548 543 The Flyer Magazine
Ferg Sports

From The Sideline



Some of these words are from Merv himself as he looked back on his time at Matamata College through to university days, on to Japan and then Queenstown.

Merv was a tough front rower who was a member of the Matamata College Ist XV in the mid-70’s. At the time they were, arguably, the best college team in the country. Merv moved on to play for university teams in Dunedin and Canterbury and gained selection in the South Island and New Zealand university teams, and he played for Canterbury in 1984.

It was not just rugby for Merv at Matamata College. In summer it was athletics, competing at inter-school competitions, the North Island championships and as a member of the college team that attended the original Colgate Games in Christchurch in 1974. He competed in discus, shot put, javelin and the hammer.

Merv spent time in Dunedin, gaining entry into the School of Physical Education and into the Selwyn College Halls of Residence. He moved to Christchurch to attend Teachers College in 1979 after obtaining a Diploma of Physical Education. After graduating he managed to secure his first teaching position at Papanui High School.

On a university trip to Japan he was offered an opportunity to go back there and play rugby for a company team. He talked it through with his wife, Maree, and along with two other couples from the university team decided they would give it a go. In 1987 they headed to a small city called Kumamoto in southern Japan. Merv can be called one of the pioneers who broke ground by playing company rugby in Japan and that has paved the way for players today. After two years the company offered Merv and Maree an extension for an unlimited time which they took, deciding to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. In 1992 they decided to return to New Zealand to be with family and settled in Queenstown. After three and a half years Merv left his teaching position at Wakatipu High School and went back to Japan to coach a company team near Osaka. He worked six months in Japan, the other six back home in Queenstown. After nine years he quit Japan again and returned home. He took up positons teaching alternative education and as a youth worker while also coaching back in Japan. He also periodically volunteered, over a long period of time, to help coach the Osaka Police Team.

In Queenstown he was involved, along with his wife, in an English language school. He taught at Wakatipu High School, he was a past president of Queenstown Lions, he worked on night patrols to keep our locals and visitors safer, he coached teams for the Wakatipu Rugby Club, he was part of the ground crew for the ten years Queenstown hosted the National Rugby Sevens, he danced in the Remarkable Men’s Ballet, he was a Queenstown Lakes District councilor, and he was a rock at Jigsaw Central Lakes Family Services working in spaces a lot of us never see.

Merv had a huge heart, an extremely generous soul and cared about people and the community he lived in. To think he danced with us at Christmas time when he was typical Merv – loads of laughs, helping direct the new mincers, energetic, colourful, and by early March was gone – has been hard to get my head around. But he was given a huge send-off that helped us all understand more about this giant Totara that has fallen, and the body of work he got through in a life well lived. Not many funerals keep us riveted for just under three hours. Merv’s did !!

When I stop and look at his contribution to society, and more importantly his family, I find myself always landing on the following – Mervyn Stanley Aoake was a great New Zealander!!!

Farewell close friend.