Memorial unveiled to athletics legend

Dick Quax’s family members joined his former colleagues at the unveiling of a memorial recently installed in his honour in east Auckland. Photos supplied Auckland Council

The late Dick Quax is being publicly honoured for his numerous political and athletic accomplishments.

Two interpretative signs have been installed along a stretch of the Rotary Walkway in Pakuranga to pay tribute to the man known as the “Flying Dutchman” for his sporting achievements and lengthy civic duty.

They tell the story of Quax’s life and accomplishments as a runner in what is considered a golden era for New Zealand athletics.

They’re spaced 5000 metres apart and feature the time Quax covered that distance during his world record run.

More than 50 people turned out for the unveiling at a special ceremony at Wakaaranga Creek Reserve on December 7.

Among those in attendance were Howick ward councillors Sharon Stewart and Paul Young, Auckland councillors Desley Simpson, Wayne Walker and John Watson, members of the Howick Local Board, and Quax’s wife Roxanne Bakke and their two sons Theo and Jacob Quax.

Bakke says her late husband had “extraordinary focus, courage, and determination which he applied to most of his endeavours”.

“He was definitely not afraid of the hard work that goes with striving to be the best.

“Whether he was running a mile, a marathon, an election campaign or in his final battle with cancer, he definitely gave it his all and that hard road still generally included a laugh or a smile.

“We are all very thankful to everyone who worked to make this very special memorial to him.”

The memorial sign contains information about Quax’s life and achievements.

Mayor Phil Goff says the signs are a memorial to the Olympian and former councillor who passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer.

“Councillor Quax was a stalwart advocate on behalf of his constituents and his community.

“He was a passionate contributor in council debates over his long career and cared deeply for Auckland and for Aucklanders.”

The Howick Local Board enabled the signs to be installed.

Board chairwoman Adele White says it’s an appropriate way to acknowledge the “much-respected athlete and colleague and to ensure his achievements are honoured and remembered for years to come”.

“Dick was an incredible athlete who ran in the same era as Sir John Walker and Rod Dixon.

“We wanted to honour that part of his life in a way that people of all generations can enjoy now and in the future so we are really pleased to be able to do that not just for him but more so for his family.”

Quax served on the former Manukau City Council from 2001-2007 and on Auckland Council from 2011-2018.

He won a silver medal in the 5000 metres at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and silver in the 1500m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

He also held four New Zealand national athletics titles for the 5000m in 1972, 1973, 1974, and the one mile in 1969.