This page is dedicated to the many people that have made up the North Harbour Rugby Union for the past 30 years (and in some cases many more before that). 

It will showcase our highs, lows, the many Triumphs, Mishaps and Celebrations that have shaped Harbour History! 


ON THE RIGHT TRACK - shore weekender, Friday 23 May 1997 - Brett Robinson

Helensville are unbeaten, Mahurangi have surprised, Takapuna are yet to hit top gear, injuries have plagued Northcote, Silverdale and Marist and all the while Navy continue to struggle.

North Harbour Senior Z Club rugby hit the halfway point at the weekend and tomorrow the long haul to the playoffs begin.  Sports Reported Brett Robinson talks to Coaches, Mick Smith (Helensville), Tony Keepa (Glenfield) and Don Clark (Marist about the first round and prospects for the second round in the new format competition. Read More:  See newsprint article

Points table after Round One of North Harbour Senior A Rugby

Helensville 11 10 1 0 304 76 42
Takapuna 11 9 1 1 334 123 38
East Coast Bays 11 7 0 4 221 186 29
North Shore 11 7 0 4 277 228 28
Mahurangi 11 6 0 5 187 142 27
Glenfield 11 6 0 5 184 214 25
Marist 11 6 0 5 223 222 25
Massey 11 5 0 5 255 157 22
Northcote 11 4 0 7 215 236 18
Sivlerdale 11 3 0 8 184 266 13
Kumeu 10 1 0 9 126 307 5
Navy 11 0 0 11 79 432 1


1991 RUGBy almanack

North Harbour was a most efficient team in 1991 as it is third place in the National Championship would show.  With 13 wins from 20 games Peter Thorburn must have well been satisfied with his team’s performance in his last year as coach, read more

1991 WIN / LOSS Record


North Harbour Club rugby kicks off this weekend with the 12 team premier grade competition, formerly known as the Senior A's  The North Shore times begins its two part preview by looking at, SilverdaleKumeuGlenfieldHelensville, East Coast Bays and Navy. Read More

The North Shore times continues its two part preview by looking at, Takapuna, Massey, Northcote, Marist, Mahurangi and North Shore. Read More

Harbour heroics secure spot in semis - weeken herald, 9 october - chris rattue

North Harbour stormed into the NPC semi-finals with a stirring second half display to beat Canterbury, 19-11 at Albany last night.  North Harbour muddled their way through a first half dominated by errors from both sides.  From the outset, the Canterbury forwards appeared to hold all the game in their grasp, winning the scrum, lineout, ruck and maul battles.  Read more

club established after sub-union split - nhru 1985 inaugural magazine

To those of a generation who witnessed the advent, this is quite a story and a satisfactory answer to years of frustrations, suggestions, ideas and planning to achieve a satisfactory scheme for our district to do honour to this illustrious game of Rugby that we love.  To those who did and gave so much to the formation of “Western” a large debt of gratitude is owed.  The planning, the materials, the cartage, the drainage, the financing, so much was given.  Names we will not mention they are too numerous and anyway those who gave only little most likely did their utmost. Read More

navy rugby football club - from the nhru inaugural magazine - 1985

The Navy played a significant part in introducing the game of rugby to the colonies during the nineteenth century, as the history if the Rugby Football Union (England) records.

It is a fact that the first rugby game played in Auckland was staged at Albert Barracks on 11 June 1870, between HMA Rosario and a team of Auckland citizens.  The Rosario team played three matches in Auckland and one in Wellington, which according to the records gave a great stimulus to the game in New Zealand.  From 1870 onwards matches were played regularly by HMS Ships ESK, Fawn, Harrier, Pandora and Rosario at Devonport.  Read More

club rugby - the heart of the union - The first 25 years of the north harbour rugby union - lindsay knight

In the professional era, which has been increasingly dominant in the game since the mid 1990’s, one of rugby’s basic tenets has been inevitably undermined.  That is the concept that Clubs, both on the field and off as community forces, are the foundation of the game and that their interests should be paramount.  A provincial union after all, is essentially a collection of Clubs who are the game’s true owners. Read More


Rugby has always been important to the people of Helensville and its surrounding districts.  A rugby club has existed in some shape or form for many years before the Helensville Districts Rugby Football Club was formed in 1970.

It has been recorded that the first game played in the Helensville area took place in 1890 – the game was between North and South Helensville and it was played at the old showgrounds opposite the Kaipara Dairy Company factory.  Competition developed from this beginning and in the early 1900’s teams from Parakai, Glorit, Waimauku, Kaukapakapa, Riverhead and the three teams from Helensville (Pirates, Power Board and Helensville) met regularly for games. Read More

ELATED north harbour confident of '85 start - auckland star 6/3/84 - lindsay knight

The Chairman of the North Harbour Rugby Society, Jim Stuart, is confident a new North Shore-based union will be ready to go in time for the 1985 season.

Elated after last night’s Auckland Rugby Union annual meeting decision which took the new union on an important first step towards reality. Mr Stuart acknowledged there were some problems still to be overcome. “But we hope we’ll have all the bugs ironed out in time for the 1985 season,” he said. The society would be incorporating itself as a union today and would be seeking affiliation to the New Zealand Rugby Union immediately. One important priority would be a meeting of the 10 clubs which would form the new union as soon as possible. On the vexed issue of boundaries, which is causing most concern to a club like Waitemata, Mr Stuart said he sure common-sense will prevail. “We have offered a ‘honeymoon’ period for those players in clubs on the other side of the harbour who may live within out proposed boundary,” he said. “We have been careful to display the best possible good will to all clubs in Auckland so far, and there is no reasons why that should not continue.” He emphasised the necessary homework had been done on all problems the new union was likely to face in finance, sponsorship, referees and secondary schoolboy competition. Read More

EAST COAST BAYS RUGBY - Inaugural 1985 magazine

By comparison with many well established clubs the birth pangs of the East Coast Bays Rugby Club are within living memory of many Browns Bay residents. The initial stirring of interest emanated in 1946 when local initiative formed the club and entered teams in the Kaipara Sub Union competition. Enjoying the fluctuating fortunes of all Rugby teams the club nevertheless flourished albeit with virtually no facilities at what was then known as the Browns Bay Domain. Two war surplus army huts served as changing rooms and the stormwater drain surrounding the park served as the ablution block. Read More

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS AT onewa - The First 25 years of NHRU - Lindsay knight

It was hardly state of the art architecture, but those who crammed into the temporary stand used for North Harbour’s opening seasons at the Onewa Domain will recall it with either affection or, if they happened to be drenched whenever the tarpaulins covers over-bulged in heavy rain, trepidation. The stand, if that was what it could be called, was the brain-child of the Western United stalwart, and first life member of the union Pat Delich, and perhaps in tribute to the hard slog he put in those early years should have been named after him. Delich says that originally the “stand” was meant to hold only about 500 spectators. But through the good graces of another Western United member Lloyd (“Tuffy”) Tufnell, who ran Safeways Scaffolding and provided the framework that was stretched to 1500. REad More

sky television - rugby almanac 2002 for 2001 season

In the past North Harbour has provided a team of stars.  This year it was a star team and for the second time, North Harbour finished second at the end of the NPC round Robin.  The big improvement this year came in the form of defence – in just five round robin matches did an opponent score more than one try – and discipline – in just four round robin matches was more than one penalty goal kicked against them. Read More


Founded in 1934 the Takapuna Rugby Club is able to look back on 51 years of involvement in rugby and the district of Takapuna with pride and satisfaction.

Originally servicing an area comprising isolated settlement, farmlands and bush, Takapuna Club now competes with nine other rugby clubs domiciled amidst a fast growing urban sprawl covering much of the North Harbour peninsula.  Read More

They Shall Not Pass – North harbour 21, taranaki 16 - Taken from Rugby News, 9 October 1997

North Harbour survived a spirited challenge by Taranaki to record their first victory at North Harbour Stadium and gather precious Air New Zealand points in the process.  But, it was a close run thing!  In a bizarre but exciting finish North Harbour kept their line intact through 11 consecutive scrums within metres of the goaline, before the final whistle sounded.

Both sides scored two tries but Taranaki could consider themselves a shade unlucky after storming back during a rousing final 25 minutes.

North Harbour had scored two tries to lead 21-8 and appeared set for a comfortable win.  But Taranaki would not lie down and gradually began to exert the upper hand in the battle upfront. Read More


An inaugural meeting was held on 3rd April 1929 when the names of fifty-five intending players were handed to the meeting.  The appropriate teams were entered in the Auckland Rugby Union competitions.

The Club had no headquarters and it was not until 1935 that the final moves were made to establish a “Home”.  In this year the Club purchased in the name of two trustees a ¼ acre property in Nelson Avenue, Northcote.  In 1937 the former training shed of the Ellerslie Rugby Club was acquired and re-erected on our “freehold” property.

Growth was stunted over the next few years due to World War II.  It should be recorded that many Club members went overseas and in the case of the third grade who won the Open Championship I 1939 no less than half the team marched into camp in Club Blazers to join the 2nd Echelon and two other members joined the Navy.

Read More

harbour bury wellington in the onewa mud - Editorial, NZ Herald 1988 by JA Gasparich

North Harbour rocked the National Rugby Championship for division with a historic win over Wellington, 20-15 at Onewa Domain yesterday.  Harbour are in only their fourth year as a fully-fledged provincial union but yesterday the side were cock-a-hoop at the way Wellington were beaten.  It was the Union’s first win over a top-shelf provincial side and harbour were cheered on by the biggest crowd (about 11,000) to attend a match at Onewa Domain.

Skipper Wayne Shelford looked determined to commit suicide when after, winning the toss, he gave Wellington first use of the half-gale angling across the field.

Harbour were slow starters in their first three National Championship outings and Shelford’s gesture looked a sure invitation for Wellington to rattle up a winning first half score. But it did not turn out that way.  Wellington may be used to playing in a half gale but they are not used to paddling around in the mud at Onewa Domain.

Read MoreSee Picture


North Shore was founded in 1873 and is the oldest Club in the Northern part of New Zealand.  Some say the Club was formed as early as 1870 but 3 May 1873seems to be the accepted date.

A meeting was held in the Masonic Hotel in Devonport (still a favourite spot to Club Members) and a match was arranged with a neighbouring Auckland Club for 20 July.  This game was 12 a-side and ended in 0-0. Read More

HAND ON HEART - QBE INSUrance, principal major sponsor for 12 years

Your world is ours too. And at QBE we firmly believe that we have a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen in the communities and countries where we operate. But over and above this, we love nothing more than getting stuck in and helping you do what you love, because it’s probably something we’re passionate about too.

QBE has been operating in New Zealand for over 125 years. For more than a decade now, we’ve been the principal major sponsor of North Harbour Rugby in Auckland and we are pleased to be behind Harbour as it celebrates its 30 year jubilee.  We felt that North Harbour Rugby aligned itself with QBE’s core principles within the community and that is why we have been Harbour Rugby’s Principal Major Sponsor for 12 years.  Read More

History of silverdale rugby club - from the inagural 1985 year book

Formed in 1930 with one Junior team in the Kaipara Rugby Union.  The Club struggled to field a full team for the first year but after that with new players arriving in the district improved to the extent that we won the Junior Championship three years running.  Silverdale’s delegate to the Kaipara Rugby Union was Mt Alec Hunter who resided in Helensville. 

The state of the roads made it almost impossible to attend meetings as the only metal road was through Riverhead on to the West Coast Road to Helensville.  Transport was provided mainly through the generosity of Neville Brother.  Frank Neville being a very keen player. Read More


North Harbour Rugby has emerged from being only an idea to within 90 seconds of first division status in just two seasons, at the same time that its teenage sides have established an unequalled standing with a string of successes at regional level.

Two All Blacks, Wayne (Buck) Shelford and Fran Botica have won their jerseys in those two seasons, while other players have established themselves at almost every level of rugby, proving two facts beyond dispute:

  • Forming another Union to establish North Harbour was good for rugby.
  • Players are what the game is about. Read More

strong position from small beginnings - fROM THE nhru inaugURAL 1985 MAGAZINE

From the small beginnings the Massey Rugby Football Club has risen to its present strong position in Auckland Rugby Circles.

Away back in 1954 the pupils pf the local primary school played seven-a-side matches on an inter-school basis and in 1955 an approach was made to parents by the Hobsonville Rugby Football Club that Massey field a 15 a side team on Saturday mornings on a regional competitive basis.

As no field was available in Massey at this time – the local Domain being in the process of development – all these games were to be played on Hobsonville War Memorial Park.  This arrangement lasted one season.

Read more

The launching of a rugby supporters club - North Harbour Rugby Year book 1985

Establishment, growth and development of the North Harbour Rugby Supporters Club – from a first move  just six weeks after the Union came into existence – has been a fabulous experience of great enjoyment and immense value to rugby.

This is how President Graeme Scott sees the work of a band of enthusiasts who are more visible at representative matches than any group except the North Harbour team.

Scott’s personal commitment to “getting it right at the start and doing something worthwhile for rugby” proved an infectious spirit.  The ripples went far beyond the Supporters Club itself. Read More

IT'S ALL GO FOR NORTH harbour - Auckland Star 1984

Ron Don would be a poor weather forecaster.  If the outspoken rugby supremo said look out for rain the next 24 hours it would be reasonable to expect sunshine and 20 degrees Celsius.

As Auckland Rugby Chairman in 1984, March 6 to be exact, Don offered these comments on the prospect of a North Harbour Rugby Union.

“The effect of the new Union will be to strangle the Auckland Union. By bringing in boundaries in the suburbs, the ARU just can’t expand”

The eve of that same March 6, the ARU annual meeting voted by 68-43 to allow the North Harbour enthusiasts to seek approval – finally received from a special meeting of the New Zealand Rugby Union later in the year – to establish the 27th Union in the country.

Don predicted that after that historic vote that chaos would greet Shore administrators and claimed “the biggest reality they overlooked is where all the money will come from”  Read More

franco STARS IN NORTH harbour DEBUT - NSTA, April 30 1985 - Maurice Dick

Fabulous Frano! No better words describe North Harbour's first five eight, the quick hard working thoroughly competent star of the ANZAC Day clash with Counties at Pukekohe .

Frano Botica showed that he has everything – reliable hands, pace an eye for a break, imagination and a willingness to run with the ball, cover tirelessly, back up on attack and make the tackles.

All he lacked was a good boot, but that was only in running play because he elected all day to pass the ball.  From penalties and conversions he demonstrated an equally reliable boot to pile on 10 points.

Twice North Harbour came from behind but Counties were in front again 29-22 at the final whistle.  The North Harbour President’s XV had ample stars. Read More

SMALL BEGINNINGS FORglenfield RUGBY CLUB - Written by Maurice Dick

1969 saw a small group of rugby enthusiasts get together in the developing suburb of Glenfield to organise rugby games for their boys.  Little did they realise at the time what lay ahead of them!  Boys rugby was quickly followed by grade and social teams together will all the organisation that goes with running a young Rugby Club.

By 1974 a number of the founding Members together with some newcomers, found themselves in the thrones of building a Clubroom on Kaipatiki Park ... and wondering where the money was going to come from!.  But success favours the brave and a very presentable headquarters was forthcoming: that original building is now virtually debt free.

Over the years the Junior Boys section of the Club prospered mightily, while the more Senior grades had their playing ups and downs, without ever having anything but an enjoyable season.  Read More

1986 Club FINAL SUITED EAST COAST BAYS IN OPPONENTS AND WEATHER - taken from the 1986 YeAR BOOK - Click to read

Cheerleaders for north harbour - from the inaugural 1985 magazine

Pictured  from left: Samantha Mitchell, Sharon Allen, Rhonda McHardy, Gayle Perkins, Zena Jenkins, Dawn Perkins, Sue Riach, Suzanne Deveraux, Tanya Cassidy, Angela Keith, and Cheryl Henderson (Coach)

A new innovation on the North Harbour Rugby Scene is the formation by a group of enthusiastic women of the "Hibiscus Cheerleaders".  The Cheerleaders will perform at all North Harbour Rugby Representative matches.  The squad numbers 17 at present but it is envisaged that the performing group will be of approximately 10 girls


From The Inaugural Magazine of the Union written by NHRU Life Member Pat Delich and Member of the Steering Committee who went on to form the North Harbour Rugby Union...

I first gave thought to North Harbour as a separate Union after talking to Terry Sheehan from the North Shore Club, who was very keen on the idea.  A position as a selector of the North Harbour 12th grade team in conjunction with Brian Jones and Don Gallaher of Northcote showed the thrill that the boys received when selected for Representative honours.  These boys would have little chance of selection in Auckland because the number of teams and the difficulty of selectors in viewing them.

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Harbour, the swatches and the hibiscus

The Hibiscus was a different story. Peter, Chris and Geoff looked at the crests of the inaugural clubs - looking for something that embodied the Union. They came up short. There was nothing of significance, nothing symbolic - nothing they felt that would unify the area.

They drew their inspiration from the Hibiscus Coast and set about commissioning the design of what is now synonymous with the Union. Peter comments "We had some horrendous renditions initially and it took sometime to settle on the logo we now use. We wanted something striking, something a little different. It was with this in mind that the Hibiscus design we know today came into being - even to the point that some of the petals sit outside the crest itself. At the time it made us unique"

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The Bubble Burst – But the lessons were well learnt… 

Taken from the North Harbour Rugby 1986 Year Book interview with Peter Thorburn (Download PDF)

Nearly but not quite.  It was nearly the dream – rags to riches in the New Zealand National  championship rugby in just two seasons.

North Harbour had won all its championship games in two years and was in front with time running out against Waikato at Hamilton for a place in the 1987 first division, when it came unstuck.

Yet now the roar of the home crowd has died down, North Harbour coach Peter Thorburn does not look on it as a lost cause.  In fact, he points to major achievements in 1986 that augur well for the future.

Read More.

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