Bruce Martin 1945-2018

Canterbury Basketball’s obituary for Bruce Martin, who recently passed away

Bruce Martin

Born 29/10/1945, Died 21/9/2018, aged 72

Service to Basketball 1962 – 2018 (56 years)


Canterbury Basketball suffered another seismic event on Friday night, with the passing of CBA Life Member Bruce Martin.  Bruce was the epitome of the word volunteer, and basketball in Canterbury, and particularly at Cowles Stadium, will never be the same.

Like many, my first contact with Bruce was being refereed by him in the 1980’s, but it soon became apparent that there were many more strings to his bow. He was dedicated, dogged, and deaf to any protestations about any calls or whether or not you were able to fill a score-bench.

Bruce began playing in 1962, and the clubs he represented include Burnsco, Taxes, Whitestone warriors, Seventh day Adventists, and Cheviot. He was recently Awarded Life membership from the Checkers’ club.

Bruce served the CBA is just about every capacity possible. Thirteen years on the CBA executive, multiple committees, treasurer, Rams statistician, Press Reporter, floor controller, mid-week Godfather, and organiser of benches. With Bruce on the case it was always easier to just say yes.

Bruce refereed from 1968 up until his passing, including the WBC, secondary school tournaments, Special Olympics, wheelchair tournaments and also Division three nationals.

One of the highlights this year was the mid-week “Bruce Appreciation Night”, where a large number of players were able to express their thanks to Bruce and let him know how much his efforts were valued by the basketball community.  The only way to lure him unsuspectingly was to organise a competitions committee meeting, and he arrived fully prepared, as this was the first one in three years.

Bruce had a special place in his heart for Special Olympics, and he was involved with the 15th World Summer games in Greece, as well as multiple local and National events. He was on the organising committee for the World Deaf games, and would volunteer for any good cause. The recent sight of Bruce blowing a whistle while on his walker at the Canterbury Wheelchair basketball tournament is a reflection of the human spirit of selflessly giving to others, regardless of your own personal circumstances. These little acts are inspirational to all those who witness them.

Bruce received every Award possible for Services to Sport, including Outstanding Winter Sports Official, Outstanding Volunteer Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sir Richard Hadlee Sports Trust. He was Awarded Life Membership of the CBA in 1994, and 50-year service Award from BBNZ in 2011.

Bruce’s legacy will survive in a variety of ways.  In the batons and score benches he made from scratch, in the furniture and office supplies he recycled for the CBA, and most importantly in the people he influenced over his lifetime. I suspect that the memory of Bruce will be powerful enough that this influence will continue far into the future.

Rest in Peace Bruce, the season is over.


Funeral Details:

Thursday 27 September 2018, 2pm at West Park Chapel, 467 Wairakei Road

Adrienne (Bruce’s daughter) wanted to let all the basketball community know that if anyone wants to bring their basketballs or whistles to send (bounce) Brucie off that is completely OK with the family.  She said that even if people wanted to wear their basketball gear is fine with the family. We think Bruce would have liked something like that at his send off – basketball was such a massive part of his life it makes sense to encompass the sport at his last farewell, and help his family identify how many people Bruce has impacted through basketball.


Bruce’s Timeline (written by Bruce himself!)

Martin, W B (Bruce) Christchurch

Lifetime and staunch supporter of Canterbury and NZ basketball and all its events since 1962, 56 years and still counting.

Service to the CBA

  • 1971-72. Elected to CMBA Executive Committee various roles
  • 1970’s. Produced and supplied some Mini-ball backboards to about a dozen Intermediate schools and Cowles stadium, the forerunner of current Miniball leagues
  • 1973-1985. Elected to CBA Executive Committee various roles
  • 1981-1984. Four years as Treasurer under Peter Crowhen
  • 1985 to Current. Various CBA sub-committees including competitions, equipment, and too many tournaments, local, Southern and national events too many to mention
  • Voluntary support role to various CBA club Administration staff over last 20 years
  • Original Canterbury Rams, Christchurch Cougars and again Canterbury Rams NBL teams including Announcers Statistician over 12 years or more
  • Voluntary reporter on basketball games to local Christchurch newspapers for over 40 years and the NZ Basketball Times in the 1970-1980’s. 14 years for Northern Outlook Rangiora (still current)
  • Reporter for and liaise with Newstalk ZB and Radio Avon over 40 years



Qualified to top of Grade 2 as a NZMIBRA and later BRANZ Referee

My refereeing career covers nearly 50 years briefly reaching 1-2 grade but maintained a 2/1 NZBF grading for many years. Weekend and Mid-week competition and various summer competitions and other club events like Filipino and Wolverines Basketball.

I started refereeing about 1967-68 having attended a compulsory CBA course and still blowing a few games in 2017 – 50 years

  • 1969 Sat National exam with 86.5% Regional Pass.
  • 1970 84% Regional pass and then in 1971 92% a National pass.
  • Mid 1970’s First major tournament: Women’s National championships at Invercargill
  • 1986 FESPA Airline Tournament Controller, referee and committee member
  • 1987 I was appointed to referee at NZ second Division women’s tournament at Hutt Valley, the year in which Canterbury under Bill Whelan re-qualified for Division one.
  • 1992 The last major game I refereed was the National Third Division Championships in Levin where I was appointed to referee the Men’s Final.
  • From around 1980’s refereed and assisted Pauline Paterson organise Rebels Basketball tournament in Ashburton for some 26 years
  • Late 1990’s on. For nine years in a row refereed at Westport include Division Three Nationals and other regional tournaments.
  • 2005 and 2012 Refereed at the National Wheelcair Championships and other WC tournaments
  • 2012-13-14 Referee at Secondary School Regional tournaments at Westport.
  • Referee at various Deaf games, National and local, and Tournament committee member World Deaf Games in 1998


Special Olympics Volunteer

About mid-1990s until current very involved as organiser and referee for Special Olympics Basketball in NZ. Attended Five National Games

  • Referee for the Canterbury Special Olympics Basketball team playing in the CBA competition 13 yrs
  • Refereed basketball at 2003 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland – 58 teams attended, 85000 spectators at Opening ceremony, 7000 athletes, 3000 officials from over 160 countries, 21 sports, 18 International Basketball referees
  • 2005 – Co-director Basketball (with Sandra French) at NZ Special Olympics National Tournament held in Christchurch 21 teams including Australia and Japan
  • 2009 – Director Basketball at NZ Special Olympics National Tournament in Palmerston North
  • 2011 – Refereed Basketball at 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece – 71 International basketball teams attended – 24 International officials – 22 sports
  • 2013 Referee at NZ Special Olympics National Tournament in Dunedin
  • 2017 Referee at NZ Special Olympics National Tournament in Wellington
  • Various local and regional tournaments for Special O events
  • SONZ 3rd Term Secondary school competitions run by Graeme Bain 12 teams over 6yrs


Summary Major Events and Awards.

  • 1962 Started playing Basketball for Burnsco Club in Cowles stadium played 54 seasons (always in a lower grade!) Based on the old Hardware firm of John Burns and Co Ltd.
  • Other teams: Taxes, Seventh Day Adventists (nine yrs), Whitestone Warriors, Cheviot
  • 1980 Life Membership of Canterbury Basketball Association
  • 1983 Commonwealth Championships. Produced programme, media liaison
  • 1986 FESPA Airline Tournament Controller, referee and committee member
  • 1987 Oceania Olympic Tournament – Tournament committee, media liaison and programme
  • 1989 World Deaf Games – Tournament committee, Press reports & Supplement double page
  • 1994 Official of the Year – CBOA
  • 1994 Life Membership of CBOA
  • 2003 11th Special Olympic World Summer Games – Referee Dublin
  • 2003 Outstanding Winter Sports Official – Basketball – Sport Canterbury
  • 2003 Outstanding Winter Sports Official – Special Olympics – Sport Canterbury
  • 2005 World Maxi Games and several other Golden Oldie type tournaments
  • 2005 Volunteer Services to Basketball – CBA
  • 2005 Outstanding Winter Sports Administrator – Sport Canterbury
  • 2005 Most Outstanding Volunteer Administrator – Sir Richard Hadlee Sports Trust
  • 2006 Long Service Award BBNZ
  • 2008 13th Special Olympic World Summer Games – Referee Athens
  • 2011 Life Time Achievement Award – Marriotts Sport Canterbury
  • 2011 50 year service Award – BBNZ
  • 2012 50 year service Award – CBA
  • 2018 Life Membership Checkers Basketball Club
  • Special Olympic NZ National Games 1997, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017 – Co-Director – Referee


Other interests

Soccer 15 yrs until 21, Ice Hockey 3 yrs

Collector and area co-ordinator IHC about 10yrs

Collector Salvation Army 5 years

Weetbix Tryalthon Marshall in Transition for over 10 years

City 2 Surf participant 38 years until 2016



30 years plus in Builders supplies trade starting with hardware firm John Burns and Co. 1962

15 Years at Scott Technology, Manufacturer of export machinery

9 years Technician at Ara Institute of Canterbury, formerly CPIT, to May 2018 now retired


Family Man

Happily married to wife Jan for 50 years, two children, two grand-children and one great granddaughter. Lived in Wychwood Mansion, Bishopdale for 50 years

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