A private scrapbook collection belonging to sports reporting legend Garry Frew will soon be available to the public online.

Leafing through the tinged pages of the 146 paper scrapbooks will be done via computer in a digitised form using the click of a mouse after the precious collection has been scanned and loaded online.

From racing at Kensington Park, to Kamo High School Athletics results and a plethora of sports stories, the archive will keep Northland sports followers engrossed. Then there are the stories about the first sale yards in Kamo, Kamo maintaining its own identity as the Kamo Town Board and the once-famous Top Town event.

Garry Frew, MBE. Photo/ Northern Advocate
Garry Frew, MBE. Photo/ Northern Advocate

The former sports editor of the Northern Advocate is a name synonymous with Northland sport, even now, 18 years after he died of a heart attack at his home in Kamo, aged 64.


Frew had a sports-writing career that spanned 40 years, and encompassed an All Blacks tour to the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and Olympic Games and two North Auckland Ranfurly Shield tenures.

The scrapbooks contain material from 1950 to 1976 and include clippings Frew collected before he became a reporter. After his death the scrapbooks were gifted to Sport Northland.

Longtime family friend Colleen Atchison, who is Sport Northland's sponsorship and funding leader, said the idea to have the books digitised was sparked when a club wanted to know about the club history but had no reference materials. The collection of scrapbooks proved to be an important resource.

Atchison said some of the scrapbooks were in desperate need of digitisation as they were beginning to deteriorate and if not captured would be lost forever.

"Preserving the history of a selection of sport in Northland is what we are doing. Yes it might only start in 1950 but it will be great for people in the future to use," Atchison said.

Atchison, and Joey Yovich and Paul Cleary, both of Sport Northland, have been driving the project. The project went ahead thanks to funding from the Oxford Sports Trust.

The scrapbooks were sent to Wellington where New Zealand Micrographics had scanned them. Eventually they will be accessed for free through the Whangārei Library website.

"Garry helped a lot of sportspeople achieve at the top level. He was such a positive writer and he always found the good in people," Atchison said.


Frew spent many years writing about sport but he was an international sportsman in his own right.

Frew was a New Zealand Table Tennis representative at the tender age of 17, touring with the national team to Scotland and China in 1961 during which he became the Scottish singles champion. He held his place in the New Zealand team for many years.

But his time in the New Zealand team was just a small part in his table tennis career, which included a hatful of national titles (in singles, doubles and mixed doubles) and many Northland titles.

He was also one of the best tennis players in the region and also played premier grade club cricket and senior club rugby.

In 1965 Frew was named Northland sportsman of the year. He was awarded an MBE, a Member of the British Empire, for services to sport in 1992.

At the time of his sudden death in 2000 Frew was serving as patron of Sport Northland – an organisation he had dedicated much time to, having been a foundation board member.

Frew was inducted posthumously as a Northland Legend of Sport in 2006.

Exactly when the scrapbooks will be accessible is not known but Atchison hopes it will be within the next month.