By J B Phillips  – Whanganui Chronicle

“A tireless worker behind the scenes” is a perfect summing up of 83-year-old Peter Hankins who died suddenly in the past week.

These were the words of fellow long-serving Wanganui Rugby Referees’ life member Peter Wilson.

He was referring to the substantial work done by Hankins in regard to rugby in the Wanganui union but the description also aptly applied during his 55 years as a local lawyer/solicitor.

He was a senior partner with the firm of Armstrong Barton since his arrival from Wellington in 1960 and retirement in 2015.

Peter Hankins was educated at Napier BHS and Victoria University before coming to Whanganui.

He preferred to keep out of the limelight but served on the Wanganui Savings Bank board in the 1970’s and was executive chairman of Mainstreet Wanganui in the early 2000’s. He was also a member of the Wanganui Club.

Although his rugby playing career ended early as the result of  a college match injury he took a keen interest in all forms of sports, keeping very fit with daily running and exercises. In recent years he played golf and had daily walks around the streets of Springvale and St. John’s Hill.

He lived in the College Estate for many years until moving to Springvale,

Although he was a very active member of the Wanganui Squash Club (patron at one stage) and Wanganui Golf Club (qualified golf referee) it was in rugby refereeing that he excelled.

Starting locally in 1965 he quickly impressed as an a very astute referee and received 13 first-class representative appointments around the country.

His NZRU appointments were – 1978 Wanganui v Taranaki. 1979 East Coast v Waikato, Wanganui v Wellington. 1980 King Country v East Coast, Manawatu v Canterbury, Wanganui v Manawatu. 1981 Auckland v Waikato. 1983 Taranaki v Manawatu. 1984 Nelson Bays v North Otago, Wanganui v NZ Combined Services. 1985 Wanganui v Wellington. 1986 Horowhenua-Kapiti v Poverty Bay, Wanganui v Taranaki.

Hankins had a thorough knowledge of the rules of rugby and was always available to offer advice to any referees. After his retirement he continued coaching and mentoring referees and providing a sounding block for referee administrators.

He represented the Wanganui RRA at NZRRA annual conferences and was instrumental in persuading the national body to switch from a traditional Easter  conference to Anzac weekend one year to enable the NZ meeting to be hosted in Wanganui.

Hankins chaired the organising committee for the very successful national conference. Profits were donated to the local Ken Parnell Fund which were used to help the WRRA purchase the old Marist clubrooms at Spriggens Park.

Wanganui referees also undertook working bees.including hay making, as a means of raising funds to purchase the clubrooms and Peter Wilson said that Hankin was  one of the “backbone workers on the hay making gangs”.

“A lovely person – a real gentleman” was the way WRFU CEO Bridget Belsham summed up Peter Hankins.

“I really enjoyed standing in the sunlight on the halfway line with his small group watching club matches at Spriggens Park. They were there week after week watching the players and referees.”

Hankins chaired the WRFU’s judicial committee and also served on the union’s appeals committee at various times as well as offering valuable legal advice when requested.

A family service has been held for Peter Hankins who is survived by his wife of 60 years Mignon, children David, Kim, Ali, Janet and 13 grand-children.