Chance to celebrate family connection

A ‘‘tiny bit of rain’’ could not keep James Vaughan from attending last night’s Elton John concert at the stadium, which is named after his great-uncle Robert Forsyth Barr. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A ‘‘tiny bit of rain’’ could not keep James Vaughan from attending last night’s Elton John concert at the stadium, which is named after his great-uncle Robert Forsyth Barr. Photo: Gregor Richardson
What could be better than making your first visit to a stadium that has your great-uncle’s name on it?

James Vaughan said the only thing that could have topped his visit to Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday, would have been meeting Sir Elton John and asking him: ‘‘How do you like my place, Elton?’’

Sadly, the latter did not happen, but it failed to stifle Mr Vaughan’s level of excitement about his visit.

The 57-year-old knows he has no ownership over Forsyth Barr Stadium, but said it still would have been fun to play on the fact that it was named after his great uncle Robert (Peter) Forsyth Barr, who started the Dunedin stockbroking company which has the naming rights.

‘‘I’m really excited about the whole thing. The fact that there’s a stadium that bears my family name on my grandmother’s side, is quite incredible — quite special.

‘‘Going to Forsyth Barr Stadium is a bit of a memorial to him.’’

Formerly of Sydney, Australia, Mr Vaughan moved to Auckland three years ago, and more recently to Wanaka.

‘‘I’ve been told all my life that I had a relative in New Zealand, and most people knew the name.

‘‘But Forsyth Barr means nothing in Australia. Forsyth Barr, the company, is not in existence in Australia, and unless you’ve been to New Zealand or follow the rugby, you’re just not aware of it.

‘‘It wasn’t until I moved to Auckland that, all of a sudden, I realised who my relative was, and what a great part of New Zealand history and a well-known person he is in New Zealand.’’

Mr Forsyth Barr, better known as Peter Barr, was educated at Otago Boys' High School and studied accountancy at the University of Otago.

But work and study came second to his love of sport.

He failed his final examination and went on tour to Europe.

On returning in 1935, he shocked his family by announcing plans to become a sharebroker, and the following year Forsyth Barr was established.

He also served as a Dunedin city councillor from 1944 to 1956 and was a director of several public companies.

Mr Forsyth Barr never had children and Mr Vaughan is the only living relative in New Zealand.

‘‘As such, to be visiting the stadium is a wonderful opportunity for me.’’

Not being a great fan of sport, he was delighted when the Elton John concert was announced.

‘‘What could be better?’’

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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