Don Chadderton's dream came true in 1973 when the first New
Zealand secondary schools championships were held in
He was a member of the organising committee that ran the
event at the QE2 athletics stadium later used for the 1974
Chadderton was a member of the executive committee that ran
the event for 19 years and has included four chapters on the
championships in his book Sixty Plus Wonderful Years in
He will be in Dunedin this weekend for the 40th annual
championships at the Caledonian Ground.
''It will be good to chew the fat with many from around the
country who were involved at the first meeting in 1973,''
''While the organising committee was preparing for that
inaugural championships, we were watching QE2 rise from some
sandhills on the edge of an abandoned racecourse on the edge
of a swamp.
''Unfortunately, QE2 is reverting back into old sandhills on
the edge of a swamp.''
The organising committee began planning for the event in 1972
and called for entries during the second term of 1973.
The championships enabled pupils from small country schools
to compete on equal terms against athletes from the big city
schools. It could not be done in team sports like rugby,
cricket or netball.
''The sprinting finals were exciting and included athletes
from places of which I was scarcely aware,'' Chadderton
writes in his book.
''Little Maira Matkovich from Kaitaia won both junior
''The final of the senior girls 800m was a show-stopper, as
two picturesque blondes, Diane Zorn amd Alison Deed, fought
out a close race.
''Many officials virtually downed tools to watch the close
battle between the two girls, who were later better known as
Diane Rodger and Alison Roe.''
The event was revolutionary because it was the first time
boys and girls from secondary schools had competed together
in an interschool athletics event.
''Our first championships proved that it was possible to
organise a meeting that catered for both boys and girls,''
''Around the country, boys and girls had competed in separate
''Little did we know that we had established a championship
that was to have such a lasting impact upon athletics in New
Zealand. Perhaps even now few appreciate how our little group
changed the sport for young New Zealanders.''
The secondary schools championships introduced a wider range
of events for girls before Athletics New Zealand: track walk
1979 (Athletics New Zealand 1985), triple jump 1986 (1991),
hammer throw 1988 (1992), pole vault 1988 (1997),
steeplechase 1991 (2001).