Passing of Tom Kingi

Passing of Tom Kingi
January 2012

It is with sadness that a stalwart and icon of Counties Manukau softball Tom Kingi passed away. Tom coached and supported many of the softball players over the years and is hugely respected for his dedication and love for the game. He will be sorely missed.

A service will be held at Nga Hau e Wha  O Marae (88 Beatty Rd, Pukekohe) at 9am on Tuesday morning (24 Jan) followed by the hakari (meal), the burial will take place after that.  

Here is a tribute from Trevor Rowse and Venita Hokai

One of the features of the great days of Counties’ softball, and many fail to realise that there were many after so many quiet years, was the combination of three great pitchers, Tom Kingi, Pana Thompson and Gordon King. But this week softball and the Kingi family had the devastating news that Tom had died, doing what came naturally to him, helping someone else, and this time a stranger, needed a tyre changed.

Tom, always wise beyond his years, did not look his 52 years but, and he would forgive me for this, a little older and that was another shock to softball fans. Like so many pitchers, he was prepared to help others, especially his little darling Michelle and her record is detailed by Venita Hokai in her tribute. Venita came to value and trust Tom’s judgement so much and he was her assistant coach for a while as Ramblers came back into the top grade, with great success.
Those of us who saw Tom in action, against Auckland teams always keen to rub newcomer Counties into the ground, found him a formidable foe. He had all the moves and all the skills. We will all miss his friendly manner and his character and all the other things that the softball family, and the Kingi family, have valued. A mighty man, gone too soon.

The following is a tribute from Venita Hokai, coach of the NZ Junior White Sox and Softball NZ Regional Game Dev Officer who had many years knowing and working with Tom.

“In recent seasons, Tom worked with the Under 17 Drury Boys team, the NFC Auckland Women, Ramblers Women and Papatoetoe Women (only this year). He was also coach of the TK Rams (winners of a Club Nationals) with Michelle as pitcher and worked with the NZ Junior White Sox pitchers just recently, leading up to World Series

“I have known Tom Kingi for 30 years since I was a youngster playing in Auckland, and I remember both him and his wife Jan (back then Radich) playing for Counties.  Tom and his brother Peter were well known amongst male softballers around the country with their junky pitching.  They played alongside players such as Gordon King and others such as Pana Thompson.  There was no doubt Jan in her own right was one of the most dangerous hitters in women’s softball, and Counties were a real force in those days.....I should know I was a pitcher back then for Auckland.

“In more recent years, it was fantastic to catch up with Tom and especially given his daughter Michelle was pitching in Counties and Auckland.  He told me he worked with Michelle as a pitcher since she was 3 years old and he was so proud of her.  Michelle is a pretty unique player given she represented NZ in two Junior World Series and one Open Women’s World Series by the time she was 18.

“Whilst Michelle was pitching for Ramblers, Tom joined me as an Assistant Coach and he had such a great sense of humour more importantly a wealth of knowledge in the game it was evident that we needed more guys like him come into the women’s game.  His health started to deteriorate over the last couple of seasons, that I saw less and less of him!  His relationship with Michelle was more than the normal father daughter relationship and the closeness they had formed was pretty special.  He worked with so many young kids over the years all of whom I know have benefited from his teachings.

“Tom was such a great mentor for me as a Coach and I respected his opinion in every way, that we had weekly chats on the phone, even giving each other cheek whilst I was away with the Junior White Sox.  His greatest strength was his dedication to his children and as a father he was never far from Ben, Darren & Michelle with both boys signing with the Warriors Development, which made him so proud.  He will be sadly missed by his family and the Softball Community and I will never forget the funniest moments I had with him in Softball-especially the cheek we gave the umpires together.  Tom loved life, loved his children and loved his grandchildren, and loved the game!”

Moe mai e te  Rangatira moe mai...