The sporting goods industry lost one of its great characters in January with the death of Ian Hunt, owner and proprietor of Hunt's Sports store on Auckland’s North Shore.
‘Hunty’, as he was universally known, was born in Hamilton in 1955. His parents, Stuart (Stu) and Lois moved to Auckland, ending up on the North Shore, where Ian attended Hauraki Primary, followed by Milford School and Westlake College. He was a keen sportsman, playing rugby but excelling at cricket, where he was captain of the first eleven. In 1973 he won the annual school boys golf tournament at Pukekohe, and at the age of 17 won the NZ Boys Golf Championship.
Dad Stu opened Hunt’s Sports Store in Takapuna’s Parkway Arcade in 1963. Initially it was a general sports store selling all manner of sports goods, and Ian was regularly there, helping. When he was 18 he started working with his dad fulltime.
Stu was a character of the Sporting Goods industry, too, well-known for his talent of abusing his customers without offending them. To the contrary, people seemed to enjoy it, and would come from miles around to get ‘the treatment’ from Stu. Ian seemed to inherit this talent.
Along with cricket, golf and fishing, Ian was also interested in darts, and in 1987 became President of Auckland Darts, qualifying as a member of the Auckland squad and competing at national level around the country. Ian was a great fan of international darts champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and was thrilled to be invited, with wife Sue, to breakfast with him while here for a recent series of exhibition tournaments. ‘The Power’ later presented Ian with the signed match dartboard. Needless to say, darts were an important part of Hunt’s business, too.
In 1989 the shop moved to Crown Hill in Milford, but four months later Stu died suddenly, and Ian took over Hunt’s Sports Store. It became a well-known ‘drop-in’ for local fishermen, the regulars being assured of a coffee (or, later in the day, a beer) and a chat.
Hunt’s was particularly popular with surfcasters (especially the Alvey brigade), and Ian did a huge amount of reel servicing and rod repair. In 2015, Ian moved the store to Forrest Hill Road, adjacent to a petrol station so boaties could easily pull in, fuel the boat, and grab bait and tackle items, all in one hit.
He met his wife, Sue, in 1998. Both had children from previous relationships, resulting in a large blended family being formed. Camping at Matapouri became a popular pastime with the family; then, in later years, staying in a batch at Rawhiti, where snapper fishing was a favourite.
Although Ian had mixed sporting interests, as already described, he loved fishing. It was with great pleasure that another of Hunty’s many friends, Ross Grieve, and I, took him out over the Manukau Bar and helped catch him his (and as far as I know, only) marlin, after many years of trying. His pleasure in the capture was obvious, as was the pleasure of being able to spread the smoked fish around his many friends. Ian was a very social man: he loved his family and a good party, regularly hosting functions at his house, being particularly proud of its grounds and gardens.
As Ian and his wife Sue got closer to retirement, they planned to sell the business and move somewhere quiet. They decided on Ngunguru, near Tutukaka, and bought their dream home there in February, 2017. But only three months later, Ian was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and given only weeks to live.
He didn’t give up though, still working at the shop and on his new retirement home to bring it up to scratch, and with friends Alistair Mair and Malcolm Dawson helping take care of the store, he enjoyed family time while trying all manner of treatments.
This, and an attitude of total defiance toward the disease, extended Ian’s life, but, sadly, after eight months he finally lost the battle. The end of an era. - Sam Mossman
Thanks to Llewellyn Wright, Sue Hunt, Stacey-Ann England-Hunt, and Aaron Hunt for assistance with this tribute.