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HomeNewsThe fate of NZ’s other iconic Supercars trophy

The fate of NZ’s other iconic Supercars trophy

THE return of Supercars to New Zealand meant the return of one of the sport’s most beloved trophies.

The Jason Richards Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the overall winner of the New Zealand round since the championship’s return to Pukekohe in 2013 and was up for grabs last weekend in Supercars’ debut at Taupō, where it was won by Anton De Pasquale.

However, it was not the first trophy created in honour of a dearly-missed Kiwi Supercars racer.

Mark Porter lost his life in an accident in the Fujitsu Series round at the 2006 Bathurst 1000 and, when Supercars moved its New Zealand round from Pukekohe to a street circuit in Hamilton, Porter’s hometown, the Mark Porter Trophy was created.

First awarded in 2008, the Mark Porter Trophy was won by the top point-scoring driver of the weekend through to the final round there in 2012.

The stunning trophy was created by Raglan artist Tai Meuli, who took more than four months and 600 hours to carve it from a 15kg piece of pounamu.

The pounamu came down to 10kg once carved, and sat within a large piece of swamp kauri from Rangiriri in Waikato that included a top piece dubbed “God’s hand”.

Sourced from Haast on the South Island – from the nephew of Burt Munro, no less – the pounamu part of the trophy marked Meuli’s first time working with the medium.

“I tried to make (the carvings) a combination of contemporary and traditional,” Meuli told the Waikato Times in 2008.

“There are things in there that represent Mark and his family, such as the teardrop.

“Other aspects, such as the mangopare (hammerhead shark) represent the hardest thing in Maoridom to kill.

“I chose that because they represent strength and the strength of the Holdens and Fords and we know they are going to fight until the bitter end.”

Shane van Gisbergen was the only New Zealand-born driver to win the Mark Porter Trophy. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Four drivers won the trophy across Supercars’ five years in Hamilton.

Garth Tander was its inaugural winner in 2008, while Jamie Whincup earnt it both in 2009 and 2010.

Shane van Gisbergen was the only Kiwi driver to win the Mark Porter Trophy, capping his first Supercars Championship race win at the 2011 event by also winning the round overall, while Mark Winterbottom was the trophy’s final recipient in 2012.

Following the end of the 2012 event, the trophy was initially placed on display in the Waikato Museum in Hamilton.

However, the current whereabouts of the trophy became a topic of discussion among the V8 Sleuth team during the production of our Tickford Racing car history book last year, amid captioning photos of Winterbottom’s 2012 victory at Hamilton.

What we did know was that it wasn’t at the Waikato Museum and hadn’t been for some time, as confirmed by an inquiry to the museum itself.

Happily, Adrienne Porter, Mark’s widow, has confirmed to V8 Sleuth that the trophy is nowadays in the possession of the Porter family in New Zealand.

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