Emotional pōwhiri as Te Papa welcomes Sir Peter Snell

18 April 2017

An emotional Sir Peter Snell said today that gifting objects to Te Papa was an ‘amazing’ experience that helped ‘ease the guilt’ the sporting legend has felt for basing himself overseas.

Sir Peter was welcomed to Te Papa this morning with his wife Miki Snell, daughters Amanda and Jacqui Snell, and granddaughters Sam and Jodi Snell.

His granddaughters and daughters carried in boxes containing the items he is gifting, which include Olympic gold medals and a shoe which Snell wore when winning gold in Rome, made for him by Arthur Lydiard.

The Olympic great wiped away tears as Te Papa staff sang waiata in his honour.

‘This is an emotional moment for me,’ Sir Peter said, speaking on Te Papa’s marae in front of family, friends, and old running colleagues.

‘This has allowed me to feel that New Zealanders know I love this country, and this is proof of it.’

Sir Peter said he had been moved to donate the items after hearing that Te Papa had bid on the sale of a singlet, thought to be the one he wore at the Tokyo Olympics. The singlet was withdrawn from sale when it was found not to be authentic.

‘I'm totally touched by this whole experience, and everything Te Papa has done. I can't really express my appreciation enough for what has happened here today.’

Sir Peter said he would not miss having the items at home, and that the whole family was happy with the decision.

‘I'm past looking at it in the cabinet and so on. I don't need the actual physical things to look at.’

‘It will stop a whole lot of family arguments down the line,’ Sir Peter joked.

After the powhiri, Sir Peter opened a display of his two Olympic medals and the Lydiard-made shoe. They are on display at Te Papa until 23 July, along with footage of Snell’s winning races.

Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis acknowledged Sir Peter’s gift.

‘The items which we are putting on display at Te Papa today encapsulate Sir Peter’s stellar career,’ Mr Ellis said.

‘The story that these objects have to tell is not only one of talent and triumph, but a story of hard work and determination, of research and ingenuity, and of teamwork.’

Sir Peter Snell and his family will have a private viewing of Te Papa’s Gallipoli: The scale of our war, before heading to Auckland for the Masters Games.

Sir Peter and Miki Snell are both competing in table tennis at the games, including as a mixed doubles pair.