Gary Fraser is someone that you will often see around the hockey turf during a Vantage Black Sticks test match or even the local Ford NHL tournament. He has liaised with several visiting teams over the years and is involved in all areas of trying to help Hockey New Zealand run its events and tournaments. Some may say he is a man of many talents, jack of all trades, an all-round good guy. In our eyes he is a Superstar Volunteer!
Hockey NZ Events Manager, Richard Palmer, has worked with Gary over the last 7 years at numerous Hockey NZ events and says “Gary is a people person who goes out of his way to assist others and make their hockey experience at all levels easy and enjoyable. Gary’s assistance to us manifests itself in many forms – Meeting International teams at airports at any time of the day or night, driving equipment to and from venues, picking up product and equipment, putting up signage, taking care of ice baths, manning posts such as parking or entry points when numbers are short – just to name a few of the areas he has helped out with in the past.
He’s always smiling and ready to lend a hand. Nothing is too much trouble. No matter how menial the task it gets done quickly and efficiently.
All this in his own time, which is willingly and generously given with no thought of remuneration. His rapport with visiting teams is legendary and he quickly becomes their go-to person making their stay as simple and enjoyable as possible.
This rapport also extends to our staff and he has assisted most of us at some point. It is hard to imagine running an event without Gary being heavily involved.”
We spoke to Gary about what has kept him involved in hockey for such a long period of time and how he manages to balance his volunteer work with his full time job at the Ports of Auckland.
Q – How long have you been involved in hockey?
Gary – I’ve been involved with hockey for well over 45 years now. From playing at school, playing premiers for St Lukes / SLAM, being a committee member, junior club captain and coaching rep teams at North Harbour.
Q – What do you most enjoy about the sport?
Gary – I love the sport because anyone can play it from an early age until the age of 60+. It is also a sport that you can be involved in even after you stop playing. Hockey is a sport where you make friends all over the world.
Q – What are the roles that you most enjoy about being part of hockey?
Gary – From Club Captain for 10 years of SLAM Juniors to Rep Coaching different age groups at North Harbour all these roles have been rewarding. I have over the last 10 years organised the transport for three International Tournaments, Olympic Qualifying, Sir Owen Glenn Champions Trophy and Sentinel Homes World League Finals. But my favourite role is being a Team Liaison.
Q – What have been some of the most rewarding things that have happened in your time involved in the sport?
Gary – Winning Auckland Premierships, two National Inter club titles, Rep coaching award from North Harbour.
I also met the Dutch team at Auckland International Airport for the World League Final, some of the team members have become friends as I have looked after them before. Someone mentioned it was my Birthday, so they sang happy birthday in the arrival lounge. Two hours later I was out meeting the USA team and the same thing happened all over again. Very special.
Q – What support do you get from the local community?
Gary – I have been with North Harbour for quite a few years now and they are always there when I need something done for a team I am looking after. I enjoy also working with the staff at Hockey New Zealand.
Q – What first got you involved in hockey?
Gary – I was playing rugby at Avondale College and went for the 1st muster, being quite small at the time and some big boys trialing, it was a great time to try another sport, so I took up hockey . A few years later I am winning the Auckland Premier Competition and two National Club knock out titles with guys who had won gold medals at the 1976 Olympics.
Q – How do you manage to balance your time volunteering with a full time job?
Gary – I work down at the Ports of Auckland as a Vessel planner on shift work. That flexibility allows me to look after international teams when they visit. When I am needed I will take leave so I can cover tournaments.
The 2019 National Volunteer Week runs from June 16-22 to celebrate the collective contribution of the 1.2 million volunteers who enrich New Zealand every year. We have hundreds of volunteers throughout the hockey community from those that help out at events to the many volunteer umpires, coaches, managers, administrators and board members. We appreciate everything that they do to make Hockey the sport that it is in New Zealand.
Check out our National Volunteer Week competition: WIN a $500 Kookaburra voucher for a deserving volunteer!