It is with great sadness that we share the passing of CNZ Life Member John Graham Prince. John passed away peacefully in hospital on the evening of Tuesday 14 February at the age of 77. John is survived by his wife Sue and their two sons.
John first came in contact with croquet at the age of 14 at the NaeNae Croquet Club in Lower Hutt and soon after Ashley Heenan took him under his wing and coached John. At age 17 John was a surprise selection for the 1963 MacRobertson Shield, a selection he justified by beating John Solomon, arguably the best player in the world at the time, in the Test Match against England.
John represented New Zealand in 9 MacRobertson Shield campaigns and managed the team on another occasion. John also captained the team on five occasions including two MacRobertson Shield wins in 1979 in New Zealand and in 1986 in Great Britain.
He set 3 MacRobertson World records by being the youngest player to compete, by playing in 9 MacRobertson series and becoming the first player to play 100 matches.
On 30 March 1970, at Hastings during the final of the Hawkes Bay Easter Invitation, John became the first player to complete a sextuple peel in a competition.
Over the years, John amassed an impressive number of national titles, including the NZ Open 8 times, NZ Doubles 11 times, NZ Men’s 9 times, and Best Ten or Eight 8 times.
John was also involved in the administration of the game with various roles on the New Zealand Croquet Council. John, following in the footsteps of his own mentor Ashley Heenan, was generous with his support, encouragement and mentoring of young players including a young Paddy Chapman.
John was a Life Member of the United Croquet Club in Christchurch, the Canterbury Croquet Association and Croquet New Zealand. John was also made an Honorary Life Member of the Croquet Association in England.
John was an inductee to the Croquet New Zealand Hall of Fame as well as the World Croquet Federation Hall of Fame.
Outside of croquet John was a gifted artist.
This is a sad day for croquet in New Zealand and around the world. Our thoughts are with John’s family.
More details about John’s achievements can be found here.