Bay of Plenty rugby is in mourning after the death of Manukapua (Manu) Maniapoto.

A stalwart of Bay of Plenty rugby and a former Maori All Black, the 81-year-old died peacefully at his home in Rotorua this morning surrounded by his whanau.

Born in Mokai near Taupo on June 29, 1935. Maniapoto is said to have started playing senior rugby in Turangi at the tender age of 11, and was the first man to play 100 matches for the Bay of Plenty union.

A staunch Whakarewarewa man, having played for the club from 1955 to 1969, he went on to represent Bay of Plenty, and will forever be remembered as the province's first centurion. In all, he played 107 games for the Bay as a lock from 1960 to 1968, scoring 10 tries, and also represented the New Zealand Maori from 1960 to 1966.


Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers paid his respects: "Manukapua (Manu) was a great stalwart of Bay of Plenty rugby. A humble giant, he was a proud Bay of Plenty man who had a formidable rugby career. Everyone you talk to holds Manu in high regards, and his selection in the union's 'Team of the Century' is a true testament of his ability and status in our community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his whanau at this time of sadness."

Maniapoto and his brothers Huri and Jim all played for Bay of Plenty as well as New Zealand Maori. Huri also played for Hawke's Bay and King Country, while the youngest brother, Jim, was another centurion, who racked up 107 games for the Bay, scoring 13 tries, and appeared for the fine Auckland team of 1962-64.

Maniapoto's body will be taken to Waitetoko marae - on the southern shores of Lake Taupo in the little settlement of Te Rangiita, just north of Turangi - today before his tangi and burial at 11.00am on Thursday.