New signs along a stretch of the Rotary Walkway in Pakuranga honouring the sporting prowess and longstanding civic duty of Dick Quax have been unveiled at a special ceremony on Monday, 7 December at Wakaaranga Reserve in Half Moon Bay.
The signs are a memorial to the Olympian and former Manukau City Council and Auckland Council councillor, who passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer.
Two interpretative signs tell the story of his life and achievements as a runner in what many consider a golden era for athletics in New Zealand – including his world-record-setting 5000-metre run at Stockholm. The signs also recognise his 15 years as a councillor representing the people of Howick and surrounding communities.
These signs are located at the Wakaaranga Creek Reserve and Pakuranga Plaza bus stop reserve area of the walkway – 5000 metres apart. In between six bollards are placed a kilometre apart and feature the time Quax ran to that distance during his 5000-metre world record run.
The unveiling event was attended by more than 50 people including Quax family, friends and fellow runners, former colleagues Howick Local Board and Auckland Council councillors Sharon Stewart, Paul Young, Desley Simpson, Wayne Walker and John Watson, and local community members.
Remembered by colleagues
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said, “Councillor Quax was a stalwart advocate on behalf of his constituents and his community. He was a passionate contributor in council debates over his long career and cared deeply for Auckland and for Aucklanders.
“These new signs are a fitting memorial to one of New Zealand’s finest athletes, celebrating his sporting prowess and his long service for his community.”
Howick Local Board enabled the signs to be installed and chair Adele White says it is an appropriate way to acknowledge the much-respected athlete and colleague and to ensure his achievements are honoured and remembered for years to come.
“Dick was an incredible athlete who ran in the same era as Sir John Walker and Rod Dixon and we wanted to honour that part of his life in a way that people of all generations can enjoy now and in the future so we are really pleased to be able to do that not just for him but more so for his family.”
Councillor for the Howick ward on Auckland Council, Sharon Stewart is delighted to see her long-time colleague honoured for his efforts.
“We worked together for a long time both at Manukau City and then at Auckland Council and he thoroughly deserves this. I remember him telling me that when he was unwell, he loved to come down the walkway with his family and just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.
“Over the years we built a great working relationship, and I was really grateful for his strong support and the friendship that we built.”
A role model family man
Quax’s wife Roxanne Bakke shared the memories of the brave and wise man.
"Dick had extraordinary focus, courage, and determination which he applied to most of his endeavours. He was definitely not afraid of the hard work that goes with striving to be the best.
“Whether he was running a mile, a marathon, an election campaign or in his final battle with cancer, he definitely gave it his all and that hard road still generally included a laugh or a smile.
“Dick was an amazing husband, brother, father to us and he was a fabulous role model to many young NZ students and runners. We fondly remember and terribly miss his charm, wisdom and wit.
“We are all very thankful to everyone who worked to make this very special memorial to him."
About Dick Quax
Quax served as a local councillor on Manukau City Council from 2001-2007 and on Auckland Council from 2011 to 2018.
Hailed as ‘The Flying Dutchman”, Quax won Olympic silver in the 5000m in 1976 and a silver medal in 1500m at 1970 Commonwealth Games. He also held four New Zealand national athletics titles for 5000m in 1972, 1973, 1974, and the one mile in 1969.
His one-time world record of 13:12.86 minutes for the 5000m run in Stockholm in 1977 remained a New Zealand record for more than 31 years. He anchored two NZ relay teams to world-record performances in 4x1500m in Oslo in 1973 and 4x1 mile relay in 1972.