Geoff Moon farewelled today in Auckland

By James Perry

A thousand mourners including former All Blacks, colleagues and family turned up to farewell Geoff Moon, who was a highly regarded rugby coach, and teacher in Auckland.

Moon, 53, passed away two weeks ago while helping to coach rugby in Italy.  Today, some of his former students joined his family and friends to farewell him at Mt Albert Grammar School where he had been director of rugby and more recently, house master.

Robert Rush, who worked with Moon as a teacher at Aorere College, recalls "Moonie" as someone who "was about team". 

"Being a player and a colleague of his as a teacher- that was a big part of his culture.  He built that culture around the team approach." 

Terrell Peita, who played under Geoff Moon as a member of the Mt Albert 1st XV, says it was an honour to do so, and he will remember Moon's sharp football mind as well as his attitude towards the youth, in particular his family.

For more than 30 years, Moon taught students and coached rugby players, some of who went on to be All Blacks, most notably Keven Mealamu, who Moon coached at Aorere College in the 1990s. 

Other notable players paying their tributes today were New Zealand sevens player Caleb Clarke and Warriors star Isaiah Papali'i- both spent time with Moon at MAGS.

There were also many other former players who have retired and have turned their hand to coaching.

Former All Black Mark Mayerhofler, who is also a cousin of Moon's wife Angela, is confident that Moon's legacy will live on for years to come. 

"You only have to look at people that are here today that are still involved in rugby or teaching and coaching at various levels," the former Crusader says.

His passion wasn't only on the football field. He also spent many years working in schools, preparing young people for life. 

Mayerhofler says Moon's love for rugby was "through his coaching, and coaching and teaching are exactly the same thing. It's about passing on life lessons."

Peita, who captained the NZ Māori U18 team in 2018, says one of those lessons is putting family first, and recalls a time when an aunty of his died and Moon told him he wouldn't be playing the following Saturday, as he believed Peita should be with his whānau at the tangi.

Rush recalls moving to Auckland and crossing paths with Moon and instantly feeling a part of his whānau. 

"Deep down, he was Māori inside.  His whole kaupapa was about whānau, feeding people, manaaki all those sorts of things," says the former Northland Taniwha, "It translated into anything he did, our kids were his kids, that sort of stuff."

Born and bred in Otāhuhu, Moon was always proud to call South Auckland home and instilled that same pride in many of his students and players who have since returned to the area to pursue their next stage of life.

Geoff Moon is survived by his wife Angela, and their children Jessica, Sean and Dylan.