New Zealand's oldest living rugby player has died, with his family remembering him as a true gentleman.

Walter "Wally" Argus spent the last year in a long hard game, battling illness, and died yesterday aged 95, in Christchurch.

His daughter, Helen Briggs, says while through illness he lost his freedom, mobility, and independence, he never lost his love for rugby, nor his pride in having played for the boys in black.

"As he got older he wasn't able to [attend the games] but even from the rest home... they would make sure he was right in front of the screen and able to see it and others in the rest home would sit next to him."


Ms Briggs says her father was unwavering in his love of the game, but not one to show off about having been an All Black.

"But I always did, as his daughter I just thought it was wonderful."

She says his legacy extended beyond his own playing history, to those in the Christchurch's Heathcote Valley whom he mentored, and who visited him in hospital during his illness.

"One in particular would come in and hold his hand and just talk about what Dad meant to him. [He was a] mentor for many young people in Heathcote Valley - not only did they work on his market garden but he coached the rugby team."

Wally Argus also received a special visit from Richie McCaw last year.

Ms Briggs says her father enjoyed chatting with the All Black legend, finding him to be a nice, genuine man and commenting to her, "by god he's a big bloke".

"Richie put something on his Facebook and all Dad's grandchildren were wildly excited about it all... which was totally beyond Dad, he could never get his head around something called Facebook. We were telling him how many likes there were and it was just a mystery to him."

But beyond the rugby history - Wally Argus made his All Black debut playing against Australia in 1946 and played four tests, scoring four tries - his family are remembering the man beyond the player.


"As well as being a tough, very strong man, he was a very tender-hearted man and probably the kindest man I've ever met... he loved us all so much - and even more important than being a rugby player he was just a wonderful man," says Ms Briggs.

Wally Argus will be farewelled on Friday at 2pm at Lamb and Hayward - Westpark Chapel in Christchurch.