A former All Black who had a finger amputated so he could play is being remembered by his family as a kind and fair man who saw potential in everyone.
Richard "Red" Conway, who also spent years playing and coaching in Bay of Plenty, died in Whakatāne on Wednesday aged 87.
He was well known for taking the drastic step of having a badly broken finger chopped off so he could go on the All Blacks' 1960 tour of South Africa.
Conway's daughter Trudi Conway said the family were "very sad" and taking time to reflect on the life of their "lovely" father.
"He was a rugby player and an All Black but to us, he was our dad, and he was a great dad. He gave us a good life," she said.
He played 25 matches for the All Blacks between 1959 and 1965, including 10 tests.
She said would be remembered as a "kind and fair" man who loved joking around and saw potential in everyone.
He was particularly encouraging when it came to getting his children involved in sport, she said.
"All the messages we have got from our family talk about the jokes he played on them, the fun times and how he liked a good party.
"He always encouraged everyone to do their very best, believing everyone had potential."
She said he was a "wonderful" husband to Pam Conway, who died at the age of 82 in October last year.
The pair married in 1961 and settled in Whakatāne, raising four children: Mark, Trudi, Wayne and Scott.
"She was really supportive of his rugby, but outside of rugby they were very good parents and worked hard."
Trudi described Conway as a "real family man" deeply invested in the lives of his 12 grandchildren, who ranged in age from 4 months to 30 years.
Posting about Conway's death on his Rugby Remembered Facebook page, legendary New Zealand sports journalist Ron Palenski told the story of his finger amputation.
"In the summers, he was a softball catcher and one of the occupational hazards of the position is getting the ball in the hand that doesn't have a glove.
"The third finger of his right hand was sprained and then broken by balls which whacked into it. The break mended but the finger had a permanent kink and a surgeon told Conway that if he continued to play football, it would break again.
"With the prospect of the tour of South Africa in 1960, Conway decided to get the digit lopped off. The deed was done between the final trial and the naming of the team.
"He recalled years later: 'I still could have gone to South Africa with the finger but if it had broken again I would have had to go through the whole process again and miss too much footy. So I reckoned getting it taken off was the best option'."
Raised in Edgecumbe, Conway was a passionate sportsman from an early age, playing every sport possible during his school years.
After school, Conway played rugby for Otago, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and made his All Black debut in the 1959 test series against the touring British and Irish Lions.
The following year he went on the 1960 tour, playing his first match in the black jersey since the finger amputation during the brief Australian leg on the way to South Africa.
His international rugby career ended on the 1965 tour to South Africa.
After this, he went on to play for the Whakatāne United Rugby Football Club and then started coaching teams at the club and Trident High School.
He also worked as a carpenter during these years, retiring at the age of 65.
Trudi said she and her father had been watching "a lot" of rugby on the television in recent months, as he had been living with her in Whangamatā since Pam's death.
His love for rugby remained strong and he was a longtime supporter of the Bay of Plenty Steamers and the Chiefs.
Walton Goldsmith, who first met Conway on joining the Whakatāne United Rugby Club as a non-playing member in 1972, also paid tribute.
"I had watched Red playing for the All Blacks and, on meeting him, was amazed at how a man his size could be so fearless on a rugby field, especially against those huge South
"Today's rugby I think, would have really suited Red's style of play."
Goldsmith, who soon became president of the club, said Conway played a "very prominent part" in the club's activities - including coaching the senior team.
He described Conway as a "character", saying at the annual old boys' days he would often prove he had not lost any tackling or wrestling skills.
"A giant Tōtara has fallen. Ma te atua koe e manaaki, e tiaki Richard."
Conway will be farewelled at the Whakatāne Baptist Centre at 1pm on Tuesday, followed by burial in the Hillcrest Cemetery.