Winners of the NZ vs SA Test Series Will Get the Tangiwai Shield, Which Honours the 1953 Rail Catastrophe


The trophy remembers the tragic train disaster of 1953 where 151 people lost their lives

Vishal Singh Feb. 2, 2024

The Tangiwai Shield will now be played for all New Zealand and South Africa Test series, beginning with the two-match series scheduled to kick off at Mount Maunganui on February 4. The award honours the sad events of 1953 when the nation's worst rail accident claimed the lives of 151 passengers on the Wellington to Auckland train on Christmas Eve. Among them was Nerissa Love, the fiancé of New Zealand fast bowler Bob Blair.

Blair was in shock -

Bob blair

Blair was participating in the second Test match between South Africa and New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on December 24 when the tragedy occurred. New Zealand's seam attack limited South Africa to 259 for 8 on the first day of play. After spending Christmas at their team hotel, the New Zealand players got the news of the disaster when they awoke on Boxing Day. Blair stayed behind the hotel. He had withdrawn from the series, it was announced, and half-mast flags were flown at the stadium.

He came from nowhere -

But after New Zealand lost their ninth wicket for 154 in the first innings, shocking both the players and the Ellis Park crowd, Blair emerged from the players' tunnel. He and Bert Sutcliffe put up a stand of 33 runs to force New Zealand to 187. It is still regarded as one of the key events in the history of sports in New Zealand.

"The background to this Test match is one of the most sad and moving and heart-breaking stories imaginable," NZC chief executive Scott Weenink said. "It's also an uplifting story of incredible courage and resilience, and in terms of the South African team and public, great compassion and empathy. I'm delighted to see this very important part of cricket history properly recognized and acknowledged."

The Shield was carved by Ngati Hine, a carver, from Puriri, a native timber of New Zealand. It has an inlaid mere made of pounamu, a stone variety found in the Tangiwai region. The shield will be sanctified and given to the teams in Tauranga today, according to a NZC announcement.

"On behalf of CSA, I send my best wishes to everyone who was touched by this tragedy, and to both teams contesting the inaugural trophy. The teams of today and tomorrow must know where they came from, and I'm sure the Tangiwai Shield will do much to assist with that."
~ CSA chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said