Home' Greymouth Star : December 9th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Tuesday, December 9, 2014
’m probably bordering on being a
hoarder,” Paul Buchanan jokes as he
describes his vast sports memorabilia
collection. The Runanga-born painter
has turned his lifelong love of sports
into a hobby.
“I used to go to games as a kid, in the 1970s, when
West Coast were one of the top (rugby league) sides
in New Zealand. We used to go to Wingham Park
and get the odd programme, and it basically started
His collection really got wings in 1988, when
fellow Runanga resident John Sturgeon became
manager of the All Blacks: “I used to paint his house
every World Cup, every four years.”
Mr Buchanan decided to make a scrapbook of Mr
Sturgeon’s first tour, of Australia, and gave it to him
on his return.
“He was rapt with it, so he gave me the
programmes from that tour and he also gave me an
All Black jersey. Well, that started it.”
Glenn Gibb donated his 1985 Kiwis jersey, though
Mr Buchanan decided that was just too sentimental
and gave it back. But since then his collection has
grown and grown to now number something like
“I’ve got everything — cricket, league, rugby,
netball — I’ve even got a signed table tennis shirt.”
He has “suitcases” full of jerseys from New Zealand,
Australia and South Africa.
“My wife hates it because the house is absolutely
chocka with gear,” he laughs. “Every time I’d get a
jersey, there’d be a frame go missing.”
A league and rugby fan first and foremost, Mr
Buchanan says he looks for things that are unusual
when adding to his collection.
Among his collection of sportsmen from past and
present are jerseys from John Reid, Nathan Cayless,
Sonny Bill Williams, Zinzan Brooke and Ryan
Nelsen, but one of his most prized and oldest jerseys
is a 1938 league jersey.
“That was the first year they put the white V on —
there wouldn’t be many of them around.”
He also cherished a pair of shoulder pads signed by
the 1945 West Coast league team, which he sent to
the national museum.
During his collecting he even came across a bag
that had been given to All Black Grahame Thorne
during the 1970 tour of South Africa.
“I had Grahame’s e-mail address so told him
about it — thinking he would be interested in it. He
rang back and said that it had been stolen from his
parents’ house in 1973 — needless to say, he got it
back for free.”
It turned out the bag had been missing for 40 years.
Paul Buchanan was born in Runanga in 1959. The
family moved to Christchurch when he was only
a few months old, but they returned when he was
He says of Runanga: “It ’s good, nice and friendly,
everybody knew everybody else. It was just about
self-sufficient, too, had the old buses and the old
co-op too and its own shops, so you didn’t really need
to go into town.”
He enjoyed a typical Runanga childhood.
“As they all say now, there were no Playstations, we
used to go into the bush and make huts, go to league
training, play footy.”
When his parents divorced his mother, May Bell,
largely brought up Paul and his four siblings on her
own. She was well known around Runanga, working
as a teenager as an usher for movies at the Miners’
He left school at 15 and went into a painting
apprenticeship with Dan Atkinson and Ray Boddy.
“I wasn’t much of a scholar, so I thought I might as
well do something.”
While there he worked alongside his future
employer, Kevin Hay. “ We had a good crew and had
a bit of a laugh.”
He attended trade school with Brent Stanton and
various other Greymouth tradesmen, on his way to
notching up 8000 hours.
“ We had a lot of State houses to do, and the ‘boy’
always got the worst jobs — sanding, plastering,
varnish all the floors.”
Mr Buchanan moved to Nelson for a year before
returning to Greymouth, taking up a job as a
groundsman at Grey Base Hospital.
In 1983, he got a job painting for Kevin and
Murray Hay at Hay Brothers, getting back to
something he knew. The three of them worked
together for 10 years.
He then swapped painting for coalmining, which
kept him occupied for the next 18 years.
“It was a complete change. I needed a change. I had
been painting since I was 15.”
Coalmining runs in the family; his father was a
miner, his brother works in the mines in Australia,
his son briefly worked at Spring Creek, and his uncle
is former chief mines inspector, Harry Bell. His
grandfather, Wattie Bell, moved from Scotland to
work in the mines during the 1920s.
“It’s all in the family.”
Mr Buchanan started out at Strongman Mine 2 in
1996 at a time of change in the industry.
“ When I first started, that ’s when they brought in
the 12-hour roster — that had never been done in
New Zealand before.”
Not that it bothered Paul too much. “I actually
would have worked up there for nothing I had that
much fun, we used to laugh all day.”
When Strongman 2 closed in 2003 he moved to
the new Spring Creek Mine, at Dunollie.
He had an inside view as the mine closure loomed
“It was pretty hostile, everyone wasn’t very happy.
You used to read about it and it happened to other
people. ...You just felt so angry, but you couldn’t do a
lot about it, they ’d made their minds up. I was one
of the lucky ones because I had a trade to go back
Three months later a familiar friend got in touch.
“Murray (Hay) got in touch with me and asked if
I’d be interested (in working for them).”
After 18 years he took up a brush once again.
“I ’ve actually gone up one in the ladder, I’m
foreman now. There’s only three of us, so two bosses
and a foreman.”
Though he is happy to be back painting, Mr
Buchanan admits he would have to seriously
consider any job offers from the Kiwis or All Blacks.
“So if there are any jobs going out there as a
baggage man,” he laughs.
“Anyone who knows me, knows I love my sport.” Paul Buchanan has a well-earned reputation as a sports enthusiast. The Runanga miner, painter and collector
talks to NICHOLAS McBRIDE about his life and love of sport.
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Paul Buchanan with a signed jersey from the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.
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