Merv Huxford’s name has been synonymous with hockey since he moved to the Hibiscus Coast 45 years ago.
The Ōrewa resident’s dedication to increasing participation in the sport he loves was rewarded with a Queen’s Service medal in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours. The medal honours his commitment to hockey and the community.
When Merv moved to this area in 1977 he immediately got stuck in, becoming a hockey coach for local schools – the U13 team he assembled and took to North Harbour competitions was successful for seven years running.
He started the project to bring a dedicated hockey turf to Millwater in 2003 and says it didn’t pick up traction until 2014.
Earthworks on the Hibiscus Hockey Trust’s site began in earnest in 2015, and the facility has been operating since 2018.
Merv says having a local hockey facility was important because locals who wanted to play had to travel to Albany. The turf there was crowded with not a lot of game time to be had. These things put locals off forming hockey teams.
“I found that only three local primary schools had hockey teams, but everyone said if there was a local turf, they’d love to play there.”
His hard work has been rewarded – on Monday nights there are around 400 Primary school aged children playing primary hockey at the Millwater turf.
Merv is also a founding trustee of the Youth In Transition Charitable Trust, a past president of Ōrewa Rotary and past Rotary district governor for the area.
Merv says he did not readily accept the award, in part because he is aware of a huge number of others who could and should get nominated.
In the end he accepted it in honour of his late mother and father.
“My father got a similar award, the MBE, from the Queen for services to education. He was devastated when I refused to go to the graduation for my science degree. So I accepted this medal in honour of my parents.”
The QSM will be presented to Merv in August or September.