McKENZIE, Norman Alexander, O.B.E.
Rugby player and administrator.
Norman Alexander McKenzie was born on 24 May 1888 in Carterton and was educated in the Wairarapa. The family moved to Hawke's Bay when he was in his teens and he spent the greater part of his subsequent life in that district, where he became one of the leading figures in rugby football. Throughout his career he was an officer of the Post and Telegraph Department and at the time of his retirement in 1946 was mail-room supervisor at Napier. But it was not as a public servant that he will be remembered. The ruling passion of his existence was rugby football, with occasional seasonal lapses into enthusiasm for the sport of cycling. While still making his way towards the representative honours which he won both in the Wairarapa and in Hawke's Bay, he studied slavishly at the principles, laws, and administration of the game and, when his playing days were over, in 1916, he slipped easily and naturally into the successive positions of coach, selector, and provincial and national administrator. He was a representative player for nine years, Hawke's Bay sole selector for 30 years, a North Island selector for 11 years, and a New Zealand selector for 10 years. He was a life member of the Hawke's Bay and New Zealand Rugby Unions, and represented New Zealand on the International Rugby Board in Scotland in 1954. Two years earlier he had been awarded the O.B.E. for his contributions to rugby, cycling, and the Order of St. John, of which he was a firm and active supporter.
McKenzie was a vigorous and likable personality, but nothing did him greater credit than the selflessness he displayed towards rugby football when his active participation in the game was finished. He had an uncanny eye for latent talent in the young and never stinted the encouragement he was prepared to give. He was still one of the great figures of the game when he died in Napier on 28 March 1960 in his seventy-first year.
In 1912 McKenzie married Margaret Callender, by whom he had one son and two daughters.
by Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.
- Evening Post, 29 Nov 1960 (Obit).