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Faces of Note

Patrick Toner SenseiPatrick Toner Sensei

Pat Sensei was born on 20 April 1930 in Gillingham, Kent, in England. He often jokingly cited the fact he shared this birth date with Hitler. Laconic by nature, and not one to name drop, the fact remains that Patrick did in his time train under some of the greats of Japanese martial arts. Patrick was captain of the New Zealand Judo team in 1966, and training partner for Rick Littlewood during Rick’s build up to the 1972 Olympics. He was inducted into the New Zealand Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2000 along with Rick Littlewood, his close friend of many years. His contribution to New Zealand Judo was recognised with his promotion to 7th Dan in 2008. In 2009 he was awarded a life membership of the NZJF. Patrick had Life Membership status at the Wellington Judo Academy in recognition of his sacrifice and contribution to the club. Patrick passed away in March of 2021. He is missed.

Terence Oconnor SenseiTerry O’Connor Sensei

A contemporary of Patrick Toner, Terry was born 1938. He began Judo in 1965, introduced by his neighbour, at a club in Birkenhead, Auckland, led by Doug Day. After moving to Wellington for work he began attending John Hanstra’s club in John’s double garage in Miramar. Terry achieved both Ni Dan in Judo and Sho Dan in Jujitsu. Along with his business partner Dave Lowe, Terry for a period supported the club financially, enabling it to survive. Terry visited the Kodokan more than ten times to train, often with Patrick and Rick Littlewood. Terry has Life Membership status at the Wellington Judo Academy in recognition of his contribution to the club.

John HanstraJohn Hanstra

John Hanstra played a crucial role in the development of our club. A strong junior club met in a dojo running from John’s double garage in Miramar. John also saw the introduction of Jujitsu which rapidly grew the seniors’ numbers at the time. This meant we quickly outgrew the double garage, prompting the move to College Street. A charismatic character, John still pops in from time to time.

Kevin HartKevin Hart

Kevin has been involved in the Academy for many years. Starting as a child in the 1970s with Bob Hannah and Patrick as his coaches, Kevin eventually contested the US Open three times. Despite often living and traveling away from Wellington, his input and leadership has long guided the Academy and remains today. Kevin is currently the Academy’s President and he contributes to the strategic aspects of the Academy. Kevin has Life Membership status at the Wellington Judo Academy in recognition of his contribution to the club.

Cameron Clarke

Cameron is currently the man you will see everyday on the mat. As head instructor he is on the mat at nearly every class and provides much of the teaching input and direction. By day Cameron is a school teacher. Starting Judo in Christchurch in 2000 during a brief sojourn there, he joined the Academy at the start of 2001. He took over as coach of the Junior Class in 2005 and as head coach at the start of 2008.

Wendy van Der MolanWendy van Der Molen

Wendy has been around the club for many years. Starting in Dunedin with Brian Cloynes, she then moved Wellington, training with John Haanstra. She is a brown belt herself and competed at Oceanias. Both Wendy’s sons have grown up in the club and are now black belts. Wendy runs the peewee classes and is involved in junior classes with Cameron. She handles all the competition entries and is generally a regular caring presence around the mat.

Kelvin BradfordKelvin Bradford

Kelvin Joined the Academy in 2016 after moving to Wellington from Auckland. Kelvin first practiced Judo in 1955 and studied in Japan from 1967-1970. He is a former Auckland open weight champion and Head instructor at Auckland’s Judokwai club. Kelvin is a 5th dan and has coached Olympic and Commonwealth judoka in his time.