A slice of Northland's sporting history as seen and recorded by revered sports journalist Garry Frew has been preserved in electronic form for future generations to read.

The private collection of 146 scrapbooks belonging to Frew, a former Northern Advocate sports editor, can now be accessed online through the Whangārei Library website.

By just a click of a mouse or push on a screen, thousands of pages of stories can now be accessed.

Frew covered all sports from marching to tennis to equestrian to swimming. You name the sport, Frew would have reported on it.

Garry Frew, MBE. Photo / File
Garry Frew, MBE. Photo / File

Scrolling through the online pages of the scrapbooks, that cover the period between 1950 and 1976, will be of interest to any Northlander involved in sports then and now.

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

There is an interesting report by Frew who wrote about Ken Going having trouble kicking with his boots while on tour as fullback with All Blacks in 1974. Frew reported the boots were half a size too big, "as his brother Sid said they were".

After Frew died suddenly at his Kamo home in 2000, aged 64, 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.

Thanks to funding from the Oxford Sports Trust, the scrapbooks were sent to Wellington where New Zealand Micrographics had scanned them.

"Preserving that history is so important now future generations can go back and see the achievements of Northland sports people over the years," Atchison said.


The first story about the scrapbooks published in the Northern Advocate in September had prompted a number of clubs to contact Sport Northland about how they could go about saving their sporting club history.

Atchison said the digital version was expensive and they were unable to do more but it had prompted plenty of discussion for clubs about what should be done with club records.

"People have realised the importance of preserving their sporting club's history."

Frew was a New Zealand table tennis representative at 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 of 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.

Easy steps to access the scrapbooks:
The recollect site is now up and running on the Whangarei Library site
So if you want to have a look and say search for particular things of interest…like a person's name or say the history of various sports you can do this.
1. https://wdc.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2567 - brings up all the scrapbooks to look through. So for a search…
2. Click on Collection
3. Enter what you are looking for eg "racing club" – put in speech marks otherwise all clubs will come up or you can search a person's name ... you are too young for this one!
4. Dates – a good idea to search, say, 10 years at a time otherwise it takes a while to load.
5. Search.