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NZR mourns the passing of Peter Bush

NZR mourns the passing of Peter Bush

NZRUDecember 18, 2023

NZR mourns the passing of Peter Bush

Story: Lynn McConnell
Image: Dave Lintott

Peter Bush, 93, photographer of the All Blacks for over 60 years, died in Wellington on Saturday.

Bush chronicled New Zealand's national game through its conversion from the ultimate in amateur sport to a prime professional game with a Rugby World Cup and annual tours worldwide. But his work was not confined to sport and covered many other aspects of New Zealand life, news and nature especially.

His cameras recorded the change to ensure memories were forever available in photographic form. His stock of more than 300,000 negatives was recently donated to the Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North.

Several books also captured his work, including a rugby classic, 'The Game for All New Zealand'.

Bush came from rugby stock. His uncle, Ron, was an All Black in 1931, an All Blacks selector from 1961 to 1964, and a coach in 1962. His grandfather George was a Canterbury representative from 1898-1901.

Born in Auckland, his family shifted to the West Coast, but he returned to Auckland and attended Sacred Heart College, playing in the 1st XV in 1946-47. He played senior rugby for Marist and College Rifles and then for Marist in Wellington.

But it was from the sidelines that he made his most significant contribution to rugby as a photographer par excellence. Having covered his first Test in 1949, he became a regular photographic recorder when he joined NZ Truth – a liaison that took him in the All Blacks' footsteps many times worldwide.

His relationship with those All Blacks sides was honoured in 2000 when New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs presented him with a golden photographers' bib that allowed him lifetime access to shoot games from the sideline.

That was followed two years later when he was awarded the NZRU's Steinlager Silver Salver for his contribution to rugby.

He was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 1991 and was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to photography in 2011.

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said “Peter’s talent behind the lens and passion for the game led to him capturing iconic rugby images. I enjoyed seeing ‘Bushy’ in the sheds and around the grounds during my playing days, he was always a friendly face. His works form a significant part of the story of rugby in New Zealand, a legacy that will live on for generations. Our thoughts are with Peter’s loved ones at this sad time.”

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