"A tireless worker behind the scenes" is a perfect summing up of former rugby referee and local lawyer Peter Hankins, who died suddenly in the past week, aged 83.
That description was from fellow long-serving Wanganui Rugby Referees' life member Peter Wilson.
He was referring to the substantial work done by Hankins in regard to rugby in the Wanganui RFU, but the description also aptly applied to his lifetime of service as a local solicitor.
Hankins was a senior partner with the firm of Armstrong Barton since his arrival from Wellington in 1960 until his retirement in 2015, following his education at Napier Boys High and Victoria University.
He preferred to keep out of the limelight, but served on the Wanganui Savings Bank board in the 1970's and was executive chairman of Mainstreet Wanganui in the early 2000's.
Hankins was also a member of the Wanganui Club.
Although his rugby career ended at an early age following an injury in college, he took a keen interest in all forms of sports - keeping very fit with daily running exercises and, in later years, walks around the streets of Springvale and St John's Hill.
He lived in the College Estate for many years until moving to Springvale.
Although he was a very active member of the Wanganui Squash Club, being the former patron, and Wanganui Golf Club, qualified as an official, it was in rugby refereeing where he excelled on the local seen, starting in 1965.
Hankins would be appointed to 13 first class representative fixtures around the country.
His first class NZRU appointments were; 1978 Wanganui v Taranaki, 1979 East Coast v Waikato and Wanganui v Wellington, 1980 King Country v East Coast, Manawatu v Canterbury, and Wanganui v Manawatu, 1981 Auckland v Waikato, 1983 Taranaki v Manawatu, 1984 Nelson Bays v North Otago and Wanganui v NZ Combined Services, 1985 Wanganui v Wellington, 1986 Horowhenua-Kapiti v Poverty Bay and Wanganui v Taranaki.
Hankins had thorough knowledge on the rules of rugby and was always available to offer advice to any referees.
After his retirement, he continued coaching and mentoring referees while providing a sounding block for referee administrators.
He represented the Wanganui Rugby Referees Association at the NZRRA annual conferences and was instrumental in persuading the national body to switch from a traditional Easter meeting date to Anzac weekend one year, enabling the conference to be hosted in Whanganui.
Hankins chaired the organising committee for that very successful national conference.
Profits were donated to the local Ken Parnell Fund, which were used to help the WRRA purchase the old Marist clubrooms at Spriggens Park.
Whanganui referees also undertook hay making as a means of raising funds to purchase the clubrooms and Peter Wilson said that Hankin was one of the "backbone workers on the hay making gangs".
"A lovely person – a real gentleman" was the way that WRFU chief executive Bridget Belsham summed up Peter Hankins.
"I really enjoyed standing in the sunlight on the halfway line with his small group watching club matches at Spriggens Park.
"They were there week after week watching the players and referees."
Hankins chaired the WRFU's judicial committee and also served on the union's appeals committee at various times, as well as offering valuable legal advice when requested.
A family service has been held for Peter Hankins who is survived by his wife of 60 years Mignon, along with children David, Kim, Ali and Janet, and 13 grandchildren.