Heritage Horowhenua launched its Walk of Fame on Monday at Horowhenua College. More than 100 people, including descendants of the first 19 people who have been allocated a spot for a plaque on Oxford St, were at the launch.
After the formalities, and after guests had focussed on the past achievements of family members, one lonely figure made his way down Levin's main street to glue and screw the plaques in place. Bazza Watkins had spent a long time prepping each site, so he could place the 19 plaques in a matter of hours. Not an easy task in the dark, despite all his prep work.
The northernmost plaque is at the Levin Club, celebrating the life of Lord Freyberg. Other walk of famers are Hector and Agnes McDonald, John Kebbell, Peter Bartholomew, Fred Roe, Hannah Retter, Emma Ostler, Christina Prouse, Walter Mace Clark, Philip Goldsmith, Dame Joy Cowley, Chubb Tangaroa, Basil Gardener, George Silk, Godfrey Bowen, Bill Skelton, Rebecca Gibney, Carlos Spencer and Phil Rolston.
Each plaque has a QR code, which, using a mobile phone, will open that person's information page on the Heritage Horowhenua website, so you can learn more about them.
Only scientist Rolston and softball legend Tangaroa were present. Plaques for Spencer, Cowley, and Gibney were handed to representatives.
Tangaroa was born in Levin in 1963 and came from a sporting family. His father played rugby and basketball. His mother was a Horowhenua representative in softball and netball. At Waiopehu College, Tangaroa was in the first XV but softball was his focus. At 14 he was a Horowhenua representative, understudy to the No 1 pitcher.
On leaving college he moved to Christchurch where he enrolled in the Māori Trade Training programme and learned the skills of painting and paper-hanging. He became a Canterbury rep and was then selected into the NZ B team in 1982.
By then he was spending the northern summer season in the US, returning for the NZ softball season. Five times he was selected in ISC's All World First Team.
By 1986 he was a certainty in the Black Sox. Disappointments came with losses in finals at the World Championships. Finally it came to pass in Michigan in 1996, with NZ unbeaten throughout the tournament with Tangaroa a member of the potent pitching line-up.
He continued his US career until 1999 and in 2000 he was recruited to be the Black Sox pitching coach helping the team to win World Championships in 2000, 2004, and 2013.
These days Tangaroa is head of physical education at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga near Hastings.He has also had his own pitching and catching academy in Hastings for the past four years.
He married Jacqui Tatu in 1993. They have six children. Daughters Pare and Michal and son Isaiah have played softball at representative level. Michal has pitched for the White Sox.