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A slice of New Zealand history goes to auction

Media Release 2 August 2012
For Immediate Release
¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬A slice of New Zealand history goes to auction

The ‘Back on Track’ QEII Charity Auction, supported by Lifemark, brings four iconic and exclusive memorabilia items from the 1974 Commonwealth Games, to a large-scale public auction.

These items, salvaged from the earthquake ravaged QEII athletics stadium, are attracting competitive bidding from around the country on Trade Me.

The ’74 Games and the QEII athletics track was a place where legends were launched, stars were born and history made. Three of those legends, New Zealand runners Dick Tayler and Sir John Walker, and Tanzanian athlete Filbert Bayi are all supporting this charity auction.

Two of the auction pieces are based around Tayler and two around Walker. Each large frame contains iconic photographs, genuine symbolic pieces of the rescued QEII track, original signatures and a QEII memorial plaque.

All profits raised from the charity auction goes to the New Zealand Spinal Trust (NZST) who support people with spinal cord impairments. Ben Lucas, the Trusts CEO and a retired international Paralympic athlete himself, says this is a once only chance for New Zealanders to own a genuine slice of New Zealand athletics history.

“To think that the track would end up in landfill, with no living memory of it in our community, was not something I could sit by and let happen. This auction now gives people a chance to own a piece of authentic Kiwi history, while also supporting hundreds of people who live with spinal injuries.”

Other items up for auction are 100 numbered and mounted pieces of the track, each with a short history of the stadium printed on the reverse side. Number 1/100, which is signed by Tayler and Walker, is on Trade Me now with the remaining 99 going up on the site for auction from August 10.

QEII was built specifically for the games in 1973 and has since held a special place in the sporting and recreational lives New Zealanders.

The park dominated the heart and soul of recreational and sporting activity in Christchurch and was the jewel in the crown of New Zealand athletics facilities. Over its lifetime, it hosted many international tournaments and acts – one of its last claims to fame being the 2011 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships. World cups, international sporting events and school triathlons – QEII was home to it all.

On August 1, the same day pieces of the QEII track went up online, the Christchurch City Council handed over the keys for the demolition of the stadium to begin.

The items are all live on Trade Me with each auction closing on August 10

The legends that were made at QEII in ‘74
John Walker and Filbert Bayi

John Walker is one of New Zealand's greatest track heroes. His athletic career was punctuated by memorable performances and noted for its longevity.

The 1974 Commonwealth battle between Walker and Bayi was labelled ‘the greatest middle distance race of all time’. The two lined up for the 1500m race in QEII for the first time in 74, the action was intense, the crowds roar deafening and the display of sportsmanship impressive. While Walker conceded the gold to Bayi in that race, the following year in Helsinki, he took Bayi on again in the 1500m and won.

Later in 1975, Walker shot to international stardom when he became the first person to come in under the time of 3:50 for the mile (breaking Bayi's world record at the same time).

In recognition of his achievements during the 1970s, Walker was voted sportsman of the decade. He continued competing into the 1980s and early 1990s.

He announced his retirement from athletics in 1992. Four years later, he made it known he was suffering from Parkinson's disease – but his active life continued. In 2008, while serving on the Manukau City Council, he launched the John Walker ‘Find Your Field of Dreams' Foundation ‘to get every kid in the south Auckland active and involved in sport'. He also continues to run an equestrian supply store with his wife.

In June 2009, Sir John Walker became a Knight Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport and the community.

Dick Tayler

Dick Tayler today still holds the Commonwealth Games record he set at QEII, all those years ago. Pictures of Tayler doing his victory dance across the finish line, as he took gold in the 10,000m are iconic. As is the photograph of him lying on the track at the 10,000m mark…all moments that are unforgettable.

Tayler says it is touching to see QEII honoured in this way. “QEII is cemented in my life forever. It is a great part of New Zealand history and it is great to see the track coming up and being used in this way.”

Tayler has had his share of highs and lows through his life, from being ranked number one in the world for his win at QEII, to becoming bed ridden with Arthritis only 12 months later. It took three years before he was able to get back into light jogging, but his athletic career was over.

© Scoop Media

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