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Sports community mourns death of Paul Ackerley

Media Release

Sports community mourns death of Paul Ackerley

Tuesday May 3, 2011

The New Zealand sports community is mourning the death of highly-respected Olympian and hockey coach Paul Ackerley.
Ackerley died in Wellington Hospital this morning after a short illness. He was 61.
Ackerley was a member of the history-making New Zealand men’s hockey team that won the gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. As part of that team, he was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
He went on to coach the New Zealand women’s hockey team for six years, taking them to a bronze medal at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. He also coached the Wellington women’s hockey team.

For the past seven years, Ackerley had been working for Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) in Wellington, as a Senior Advisor in Coaching and Volunteers.

SPARC Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says Ackerley was highly-respected among his colleagues, and in the sport and recreation sector.

“At SPARC we have lost a much-loved colleague and friend, but Paul will also be a tremendous loss to the wider sports community,” Miskimmin said.

“Paul had a lot of sporting success in his life. Not only was he a gold-medal winning Olympian and a high-performance coach, he also managed to use his talents and skills to help develop other coaches.

“Paul was passionate about sport and particularly coaching. Part of the legacy he leaves is a national vision around the importance of coaching and the importance of developing coaches.

“Paul’s other great passion in life was his family, and our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Rosemary and their daughters, of whom he was very proud.”

General Manager of Community Sport at SPARC, John Reid, says Ackerley worked closely with many of New Zealand’s national sport organisations, and played a significant role in developing their coaching programmes.

“Paul took SPARC’s national coaching strategy and developed guidelines from it which underpin the coaching programmes of most of the country’s leading sports,” Reid said.

“He had a true gift when it came to working with people. Everyone he dealt with liked him and respected him. He was the sort of guy who would do anything he could to help you, personally and professionally.”

Andy Rogers, the Director of the Greater Auckland Coaching Unit, was one of those who worked closely with Ackerley in recent years.

“Paul was a truly humble and engaging leader who was held in the highest regard by the wider sporting sector,” he said.

“His knowledge, passion and whole-hearted contribution to revitalising the importance of coaching will leave a lasting legacy. He will forever hold a special place in the hearts of New Zealand’s sporting community.”

Originally from Ashburton, Ackerley played most of his early hockey in Christchurch for the University of Canterbury Hockey Club. He played for New Zealand from 1974-77, during which time he earned 25 international caps.

The highlight of his career was being part of the side that stunned the hockey world by winning the Olympic gold medal in Montreal, beating Australia 1-0 in the final. He was also selected for the team to compete at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but didn’t go because of the American-led boycott.

Ackerley started his professional life as a teacher and worked for many years for the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, before moving to SPARC in 2004.


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