In every generation we see a handful of truly outstanding role models.
They come from everywhere on the compass and from all walks of life.
We admire their actions and their deeds.
And we hold them up as representatives of everything good about the spirit of our country and the values of our citizens.
Sir Wilson James Whineray is one of our legends.
He was a good man in the finest traditions of someone truly great.
Although well-known for his outstanding contribution as All Black Captain, he was much bigger than the game of rugby - he was an extraordinary individual.
Very few New Zealanders would not have heard of Sir Wilson. And that is a tribute to all of his endeavours in sport, business and in the wider community.
In 1993, I worked with him in his role as Chairman of the Hilary Commission.
His single most significant contribution to that organisation was his commitment to reviving secondary school sport and participation at all levels.
He was of course a great achiever, but for all of that, a quiet achiever.
Public life never held a lot of interest for this private person, yet I can’t help but reflect on what a superb Governor General he could have been.
Over the years, he never hesitated to give anyone a helping hand and was always there as a beacon of doing things right, and doing the right thing.
I had the opportunity to talk to him quite a lot over the years. On a one-to-one basis he always left you with a single and significant piece of sage advice.
Former American President John Quincy Adams once said...
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Sir Wilson Whineray was a leader of the people, and New Zealand’s stadium of four million has greatly benefited from the endeavours of one man.
Today our thoughts turn to his gracious wife and wonderful family.