Eugene Topine – Chairman of the Ngati Haua Trust, sports supporter and friend

It is with great sadness that we have seen the passing of a mighty Totara. Eugene was a wonderful leader for his whanau in the time I worked with him over the Treaty of Waitangi claims for Ngati Haua. He and his trustees appointed me the Lead Negotiator for their Iwi in 2017 and we worked together daily since that time.

I also came to appreciate his love for sport and his understanding of how sport draws whanau, hapu and iwi together.

The Big E was a devoted Chiefs, and – sometimes a little reluctantly(!) Hurricanes, and Warriors man.

He was a great fan of the beloved Jerry Collins, Keven Mealamu and Rodney So’oialo in particular. He met Rodney with me a couple of years back. He also cherished his meeting with Silver Fern Katrina Rore (nee Grant) when we were working together in Wellington.

I have no doubt that our common love for Rugby, Rugby League and Netball really helped nurture our deep friendship beyond just a professional one.