IWI: Ngati Awa, Ngati Rangitihi
MARAE: Tuteao (Te Teko),Rangiaohia (Matata)
BIRTHPLACE: Te Teko (02 December 1933)
DIED: Whakatane (06 March 2000)
IWI: Ngati Awa, Ngati Rangitihi
Biography | tuhinga koi ora
Albert (Janni) Pryor was born to Henry Kininmont Pryor (known as Gundy or his Maori-name of Hare Praea) a drover on the East Coast and Taini – Te Awaroa (nee Patupo) a descendant of Ngakuru Raerino Patupo (Ngati Awa & Ngai Tuhoe) and Meretuira Ngaikiha Rawakata (Ngati Rangitihi) Albiea’s siblings were (Jimmy Ratima, Te Awaroaa’s previous son) Marion, William (Bully) Gordon, Henry (Babes), Josephine and Jonathon. Marion died when she was very young, Jonathon died as a baby and Gordon passed away shortly after Albie. One of the things Albie and his brothers admired about their father, was the fact that he accepted their mothers son to her first husband as his own, It must have been difficult for him to come up from the South Island, where his parents who were quite wealthy, marry this young Maori lady with a son and claim him as his own. They reckon this may have contributed to dad being disowned by his own parents, who had sent him packing and to make things legal dad received one shilling through the courts as his share of his fathers estate, thus making certain that their dad couldn’t claim from his fathers estate. Albert was adopted out under very different circumstances, their uncle George Raerino was the family midwife and he was in attendance at all the births and apparently he and his wife Aunty Rihi couldn’t have children, so when Albert arrived he was literally taken from Te Awaroa’s womb wrapped in a towel and handed to Rihi and she took Albert home. Raised at Te Teko and educated at Te Teko Native School from 1940 to 1947, The Rangitaiki River which flowed past the school and Marae had a great influence on the development of Albert, his whanau and the young people of Te Teko, it was the place they learnt to swim, fish and set Hinaki to catch eels. As most families had no washing facilities in their homes it was also their bathroom and a place to wash their clothes. Albert was always involved in sport right from his days at the Te Teko native School where he spent a carefree life, swimming, riding horses, playing hockey, cricket Te Teko style. Then came High School at Whakatane High School from 1948 to 1950 and being a big boy, Albie was the centre of the teachers attention when he arrived at the School with the senior boys eyeing this big tough looking third former and assessing his worth for the 1st. XV. But there was a surprise in store for the School when the annual swimming sports were staged in the Whakatane River this big Maori boy from Te Teko with his karu karu swimming trunks lined up in the 50yds freestyle for the first time in his whole life, and gets to the finishing line ahead of anyone else, then had the audacity to repeat the dose in the 100yd race 15mins later. Albert then went on to Te Puke for the BOP Secondary Schools Championships a fortnight later to compete against other Schools, winning both freestyle events in record time, and then swimming the anchor leg for the Whakatane High School relay team and with a super human effort came from behind to take out the race for the first time ever and this was achieved without any training or coaching. Albert also surprised everyone in athletics, when competing at Katikati in the BOP Championship, in the discus and shot put events, when spotted by a decathlete named Terry Lipscombe who talked him into entering the decathlon. Albert took to that discipline like duck to water ending up a close third in this event. He became very well known in this event, but of course rugby was Albert’s passion. Albert Pryor, began his outstanding rugby career playing for Te Teko Native school, Whakatane High school, Edgecumbe and Matata rugby clubs, then selected for the Rangataiki Sub Union before his selection as an 18 year old for the Bay Of Plenty side, and selected for the 1952 Maori All Blacks, Albert played 19 games for BOP before he was enticed to the Ponsonby Rugby Club in Auckland, the All Black winger, the late Eric Boggs, responsible for his transport to Auckland, a sad day for his mother Te Awaroa. Before transferring to Auckland Albert married a Rotorua girl named Frances Tahana, who first came to Te Teko to work for the Department of Maori Affairs in Whakatane. Frances later worked for the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company in Edgecumbe, where Albert also worked, and it was presumed they got together there. Frances nursed Albert through a serious bout of rheumatic fever, which left him with a then un- detected heart murmur. Albie (as he was now known) was soon into his stride in Auckland club rugby, making the Auckland representative side in 1956, North Island side the same year and the All Black trials where Albie was tipped as a certainty for the 1956 All Blacks, by some of the sports critics of the time. Despite brilliant early form Albie failed to win selection, which disappointed many rugby followers of the day. However Albie continued to make his mark in Maori rugby, touring Australia with the Maori All Blacks in 1958 and the Islands in 1960, where Albie was sent off in a Test match against Tonga, only to have the King of Tonga recall Albie to the field and the King replaced the referee. Albie was regarded as one of the ‘tough’ men or ‘enforcers’ on the rugby fields as the ’56 Springboks and ’59.
Lions found out. Albie was one of the first to wear white sticking plaster as protection for his ears and the ’59 Lions after playing Auckland were seeking revenge for this certain Maori players over robust play against them, when they played the Maori All Blacks later in the tour, however the story goes that Albie forced his flanker to wear the white tape that day and the Lions chased ‘that white sticking plaster’ all day but still received robust play from one of the Maori players. Incidentally, the Tongan people after watching Albie in 1960 now call all the head bands or sweat bands, still today ‘Palaea’ after Albie. There are many, many more stories about this ‘Taonga’ from the small Eastern Bay of Plenty town of Te Teko, and we are sure they will continue on as folk lore in Rugby. Albie went on to play 85 games for Auckland from 1956 – 64 and played in every position in the Auckland forward pack with the exception of hooker. Albert’s passion for Maori Rugby was well known and as he stated there is a simple explanation for this ‘The Maori as a race are so deeply in love with the game of rugby. It’s the act of running with the ball and making a fool of the other fellow’. He went onto to play for the Maori All Blacks from 1952-1960. His support for Maori rugby, is highlighted along with his great mate the late Pat Walsh and the many Sunday and exhibition games they organized around the motu will never be forgotten. After retiring from club rugby and captain of Ponsonby Albie was lured into coaching, this time to the famous Manukau Rovers rugby club by Trevor Good and Snow Garner in 1964, there he teamed up with his Auckland front row mate and Manukau captain ‘Bear’ Thomas, that attracted top players from all over including Mackie Herewini, Te Roi Tataurangi and Ron Webb, in 1968 Manukau beat Ponsonby in the final to win their first ever Gallagher Shield in front of a record crowd of 25,000 (still a record today) Albie ‘persuaded’ his 19 year old nephew Selwyn (Bully’s son) to come up and play for Manukau, Selwyn ended up been a vital member of that shield win and won selection for the Auckland Colts, on his return to Te Teko Selwyn was selected for the BOP. Albie was brought in to coach the Auckland 2XV and looked promising to take over the Auckland side, and been named ‘Coach of the Year’ but maybe like his non selection in the 1956 All Blacks, Albie was too aggressive for the hierarchy of Auckland and All Black rugby? He was notorious for his team talks before and at half time, and one of his famous quotes was ‘I do not condone fighting on the field, but I have seen one good punch clean a game up!’ Albie soon took over the reins as President of the Manukau Rovers rugby club and returned to coaching the top side in the early ’80s almost pulling off another Gallagher Shield win in 1984, Albie was instrumental in taking Manukau to the Michelob rugby tournament in Tuscon Arizona in 1983. Albie had a knack of picking players from nowhere, some of them going on to become famous, and infamous, players, like after the return from Tonga in 1960 he convinced Fred Allen that he had ‘found’ a first five eight in a ‘little fella’ called Mackie Herewini, who went away as a fullback but through injury was shifted to first five eight, equally interesting was Dick Garratt requesting Albie to look at this junior player that he had shifted to second five eight from flanker in the Manukau U/19 team, after watching for part of the game Albie declared that ‘young fella’ named Frank Bunce was a centre. Travelling down the line to a Sunday match Albie saw this strapping young bloke hitching a ride to Auckland, Albie turned his car around, and said ‘boy do you play rugby?’. ‘Yes!’ Was the answer, ‘hop in’ said Albie and took him straight to the match, where this young lock from Napier was an outstanding member for the next few seasons of the Manukau seniors. Albie had his last stint at coaching at the Carlton club. His mate Pat Walsh had taken over at Manukau. When the two sides met at Eden Park, none other than the famous George Nepia was in Albie’s dressing room, and George stated afterwards that he never heard such a stirring team talk with words that must be only spoken in Te Teko, and surprise! Pat Walsh was ‘listening in’ through the key hole of the dressing room door. You could imagine the banter between them both at the after match function.
Albie was an above average golfer, playing out of the Aviation Country Club at the Auckland Airport with another of his great mates Te Roi Tataurangi, representing the club in senior pennants. When Albie decided to have full knee replacement, the hospital detected his minor heart murmur which Albert denied having, and they didn’t want to give him anesthetic because of it. But, of course, Albie being Albie, he persuaded the medical staff that as he had fronted up to some of the biggest men in world rugby and his heart didn’t let him down then, why it should now! And, of course the hospital staff agreed. Albie was a hard worker, when arriving in Auckland he secured a job at the Auckland Meat company, later on, starting his own butcher shops in Green Lane and One Tree Hill. With supermarkets making things tough for the old corner butcher shops and another of his great mates the ‘Mad Butcher’ Peter Leitch starting up shops all over the City, Albie decided it was time for a change and develop his vision and passion to encourage Maori athletes in pursuit of excellence in their chosen sports, which saw Albie form Te Tohu Taakaro o Aotearoa Incorporated (The National Maori Sports Awards) which today is a Charitable Trust and Albie’s visions are growing stronger and stronger within the Trust’s development. Francis and Albie had a family of one daughter, Beverley, whom they lost at an early age and four boys, Kevin, Glenn, Patrick and Craig. Kevin works at AUT University and is married to Heather. They have a daughter Claire and two sons Daniel and Kara, both promising rugby players. Glenn is married to Jacqueline, and he has two children Luke and Kate. Glenn owns a Stirling Sports franchise in West Auckland. Patrick is a truck driver, married to Shirley and they have a son, Arapeta. The youngest Craig, a former top cricketer, is married to Tara and they have two children, Trinity and Lawson. Craig works for Giltrap Porsche in Auckland. Sadly Albie passed away at Taiwhakaia Marie at Whakatane, while performing a farewell whaikorero to another of his rugby mates from the BOP the late Bubbles Simpson. Albie’s tangi at Tuteao Marie (Te Teko) was possibly one of the largest ever seen in that small Bay of Plenty town, a tribute to the mana that Albie had within the sporting world and in a lot of ways highlighted Te Teko on the National and International world. Albie’s brother Gordon passed soon after, Gordon’s twin sons Keith and Michael both represented BOP & BOP Maori in Rugby. Albie’s wife Frances sadly passed away in 2007, but Albie is still survived by his Tuakana Wiremu Pryor, who heads the Radio station ‘Te Reo Irirangi a� Te Ma�nuka Tatahi’ Sun FM at Whakatane, Henare Pryor who is kaumatua for Te Tohu Taakaro o Aotearoa Charitable Trust and recently was the Ngati Rangitihi representative for the Central North Island Iwi collective of Mataatua and Tuwharetoa which were successful in claiming back past forest rentals from the Government. Sister Josephine Barnaby who moved back to Te Teko in 2000 from Tauranga following the passing of her husband Max, and after 50 years of nursing Josephine retired for a few days and was ‘encouraged’ back to manage the Hauora at Te Teko.
Below are some quotes from sporting greats and others who were associated with Albie:
Sir Wilson Whineray – ‘I treasure the memories of time spent with Albie over many years of strong friendship’. We first met in late 1955 in Matata. I had just returned from the NZRU Colts tour of Ceylon and was to spend the summer working on a dairy farm at Edgecumbe. With a couple of friends we went to a dance at Matata. Albie, as usual, seemed to be running everything! We talked a lot and shared a late night coffee back with Frances. Four or five years later we were both in Auckland and became members of the wonderful Ranfurly Shield team of the 1960s. Albie was a key member of the team–versatile, reliable, talented and strong. He was held in great respect by the entire team. Without doubt he was a very fine rugby player. Our friendship continued until his death and it was important to me that I travelled to Te Teko to see him off on his final journey.
Bob Graham – Albert Pryor was different – he did not fit into any traditional mould. He was one of the characters of New Zealand rugby. He had charisma, was unpredictable, had individual flair, great personal ball skills, intuition and anticipation for opportunities in the game. These talents often added up to a game breaking run or a match winning try .His combination of talents were rare in the game of rugby. Albie played his later years as a tight forward and did not always conform with the demands of ” winning up front” . Fred Allen spent time in team talks stressing to Albie the need to do it right up front and not loosening up and appearing alongside the wingers. However Fred was known to have said to Albie as he ran out that if he was out there to make sure he didn’t stuff it up. Of course Albie was out there and usually he didn’t. Albie is very sadly missed as a friend and as a very talented player. I doubt will see the likes of him ever again.
Barry ‘Bear’ Thomas – The one and only ‘Albie Pryor’ we first met head-on in a club rugby match; Manukau vs Ponsonby. I had heard a lot about this ‘Butcher-boy’ from Te Teko and soon realized that if you bowed down to him he would run over you all day long. A considerable verbal and physical battle took place, neither giving ground and it wasn’t until I heard Albie complaining to the ref – ‘that red-headed b_ _ _ __ _ wasn’t obeying the rules’ I knew I had made my point. Out of this, mutual respect developed and never to be forgotten friendship which lasted over 40 years. I have some tremendous memories of this outstanding personality and as far as I am concerned there will never be another like Albie Pryor. P.S.: Albie knew the perfect meaning of ‘wing-forward’.
Peter Leitch QSM - ‘Albie was one of the real characters of life, a real good man, he had passion for life and sport, you would never meet a better bloke! And a fellow butcher’
Richard (Dick) Garratt – Na taku arohanui mo Albie he kaiarahi, he kaiakopono me tana matakite mo nga hakinakina a maori na tana I pa mai te korowai kia au kia kawea kia whakatutuki nga tamanako a Albie kia whaka puawai nga taonga hakinakina maori. I uru mai te konohi, te aroha kia mau tonu ki taua tirohanga te whakakitekite hei hoatu, hei whaka ta, hei tu whakatauira nga rangatira toa katoa o te motu ki nga takoha hakinakina. Because of my respect for Albie, as a leader, a mentor, and one of the leading visionaries of Maori sport, who gave me the mantle to carry on with, and develop his Maori Sports Awards, I feel within my heart to strive for that vision in showcasing elite Maori athletes as role models and proud contributors to our sporting nation.
Achievements | tutukitanga
ACHIEVEMENTS RUGBY 1st XV Whakatane High, 1948, 49, 50 Bay of Plenty Junior Rep 1950 Edgecumbe Rugby Club Matata Rugby Club Rangitaiki Rugby Sub Union Bay of Plenty 1952, 53, 54, 55 Auckland 1956, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64 North Island 1956 All Black Trials 1956 NZ XV 1956 Rest of NZ 1956 NZ Maori All Blacks 1952, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 Coach – Manukau Seniors, 1964 – 1969 Coach – Auckland ‘A’ Squad, 1967 Coach – Ponsonby Seniors, 1972 Auckland Coach of the Year, 1980 Coach – Carlton Seniors, 1986 – 1987 Coach – Carlton U/21, 1988/1989 Coach – Auckland U/21, 1990 – 1993 SWIMMING Whakatane High School senior swimming champion 50 & 100yds 1949, 50 Bay of Plenty secondary schools swimming champion 50,100 & relay champion 1950 HONOURS Barbarians Rugby Club, Albie was nominated and accepted into this famous rugby club in 1967 and was elected Vice President in 1997, 98, 99, 00 but unfortunately passed away before he could take office as President for 2001 Maori Sports Awards (Te Tohu Taakaro o Aotearoa Charitable Trust) Founder & Chief Executive Officer 1991 – 2000 New Zealand Cricket Incorporated, Maori and Pacific Island Consultant Sky Tower Casino Consultant to Brierley’s Investments. In the development and building of Sky City. Former Lions Club member East Tamaki