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Obituary - Harry O'Rourke NZOM
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 18:17

We regret to advise that Life Member and Honorary Past President Harry O’Rourke passed away on 21 March, aged 74. Harry will be sadly missed by his family and his many judo colleagues & friends.

Harry's list of achievements and contributions are varied, lengthy, and significant. A fuller account is contained below, but to highlight a few;



  • President of NZJF for 21 years
  • President of Commonwealth Judo Association
  • Life member of JNZ
  • IJF Silver Medal of Merit for Services to National and International Judo
  • Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for outstanding contribution to New Zealand in various areas, including Judo

A more detailed account of Harry's judo history and other contributions follows, along with details of the service to celebrate Harry's life.

Judo New Zealand extends our condolences to Jackie, family & friends.

Harry started Judo at the YWCA Judo Club, Auckland in 1960 and in 1966 became a club instructor.
As well as being active on the mat, Harry was also involved in administration from early on. In 1967 he was elected as Registrar for the Auckland Area Association (AJA) and Area Director the following year.
Harry became the AJA President in 1969 and remained in this role until 1984. Also in 1969 he founded the Mt Roskill Judo Club.
His first JNZ position was Presidential Aide and Management Board member in 1971 and he was in this role for 4 years. During this time he was also elected JNZ’s Sports Director in 1973 for two years.
In 1972 Harry coached the NZ under 23 Team on a development tour of Fiji & New Caledonia.
Harry became Chairman if Judo NZ in 1975 and held this position until he became President in 1987. After 21 years as JNZ President Harry was elected as Honorary Past President in 2008.

In 1992 Harry was elected as an Honorary Life Member of Judo NZ in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Judo NZ and continued to significantly contribute for many years after this until standing down as President in 2008.

International Contribution & Achievements include;
Harry’s international administration began in 1970 when he was elected Treasurer of the Oceania Judo Union and he served in this position for 30 years until 2000. During this time he was appointed to the Finance Commission of the International Judo Federation and served on this commission for 16 years.

In 1983 Harry was awarded an IJF Medal and Diploma of Merit by the International Judo federation for his contribution to National and International Judo.  Only 4 other people in the world held this at the time of the award

In 1986 Harry was elected President of the Commonwealth Judo Association (CJA) after being one of the founders of the CJA in 1983. Harry remained CJA President until 2013 when he was elected Honorary President.

It was through Harry’s sterling efforts that Judo was included for the first time as one of the 10 official sports at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. At that time 3 sports were automatically included as core sports (Athletics, Swimming and Boxing) and a further 7 sports were included from a possible 30 plus other sports to complete the then total of 10. It was therefor a significant achievement to have Judo feature as one of the 10 selected sports for Auckland’s bid.
Consequently, as a result of New Zealand’s successful bid for the Games in 1986, Judo made its first appearance in the Commonwealth Games as one of the ten official sports in Auckland.
He subsequently directed and guided the games operations as Sports Director for Judo in the 1990 Commonswealth Games.
Harry’s outstanding contributions to Judo were again recognised when he was awarded the IJF Silver Medal of Merit for Services to National and International Judo. This prestigious award was presented September 2003 in Osaka, Japan at the World Championships.

Career & Other Contributions:

Harry worked in local government for most of his working life and was CEO of the Waitakere City Council for many years before retiring in 2008.

Harry was also involved with Auckland Civil Defence, Sea Rescue and a number of statuary & other bodies.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand in various areas, Harry was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The service to celebrate Harry’s life will be held at St Marys Catholic Church, 10 Kitenui Avenue, Mt Albert,  at 11.30 am on Tuesday March 29th.
The service will be taken by Father Jude McKenna from Zambie, who has been a friend of Harry’s for 30 years and is a current member of the Commonwealth Judo Association Executive. He will be asisted by Father Sateki the St Mary’s Parish Priest.
Everyone is welcome to join the family after this for the burial service at the North Shore Memorial Park (Schnapper Rock), 235 Schnapper Rock Road, Albany, Auckland.
Afternoon tea will be served at the Memorial Park after the burial.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Fred Hollows Foundation, Level 6 12 Morgan Street, Newmarket, Auckland 1023 would be appreciated by the family. Donations can also be made via 0-800-227-229 or



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