Ivan Moffat was born in 1917 in Wellington. He was 97 in August last year and is Table Tennis Wellington’s oldest Vice President. He started playing at age 12 at the Boys Institute in Tasman Street, Wellington. This began a lifetime involvement with table tennis.

During World War 2 Ivan was a private and sapper with the 36th NZ Army Battalion (1941-45) in the Pacific. He borrowed a bat from the Salvation Army and played with his fellow soldiers when there was time.

Ivan played interclub for the St Josephs Club in Mount Victoria. He was in their 1954 winning E Grade Team. In the final St Josephs beat Kilbirnie RSA 12-8. There were 61 teams in E Grade that year, in 8 sections. The next year Ivan was playing C Grade. His team won Section 3 and finished 3rd of 4 teams in post section play. Brian Hearfield (TTW Life Member) recalls that he played against Ivan in B Grade. The St Josephs team also included Jack Dobbs and Bob Gallagher. Bob who played for St Josephs (1957-62) said that Ivan was an attacking player who used the same side of the bat for both forehand and backhand. Bob also said that Ivan was the most awkward player he has played against. Ivan also played in the A Reserve Grade. He later played for St Pats in Kilbirnie. His wife Florence (better known as Florrie or Flossie) was ever present with him on club night and at his interclub matches.

Ivan was on the Wellington Table Tennis Association Executive Committee (1962-73). He was on the Emergency, Tournament and Hall, and Equipment Sub Committees. Ivan was also the Recording Secretary for A-B Grades (1963-73). He was a Junior Selector (1962) and Senior Selector (1963-70). He was the Manager for Wellington Teams in matches against Wairarapa, Canterbury (Clapshaw Trophy) and the Grades Match against Hutt Valley. He was the Manager of the Wellington Teams at the NZ Championships (1963) and Women’s Team (1964-67, 1969-70). Ivan was on the New Zealand Table Tennis Committee (1974).

In the then annual match against Hutt Valley, Ivan was in the Wellington Executive Team (1962,1963,1965,1967,1969 & 1972), C Grade Team (1955) and A Reserve Team (1971 & 1973). The Executive Team won 10-2 (1963) 12-0 (1967) 7-5 (1969) 11-1 (1972) and the A Reserve Team won 8-4 (1971) and 7-5 (1973). Ivan won the Wellington Open Veteran Men’s Singles (Over 45) on 4 occasions (1963,1965, 1966 and 1968). Ivan is a qualified National Umpire. At the New Zealand Championships, Ivan was Deputy Referee (1965), Assistant Referee (1979) and Referee in 1986,1988, 1991, 1996 and 1998. Former Wellington coach Paul Escott said that at the New Zealand Championships, Ivan (Tournament Referee) proudly worn his Wellington blazer. His wife Florence was there at the tournaments with him until she passed away in December 2004.

Ivan left Wellington to move to Papakura, Auckland in July, 1978. He joined the Papakura Club and continued playing and being an official. He was rewarded for his services by being made a Life Member of the Auckland Association (1994), Papakura Club (2005) and Counties Association (2013). Ivan is the Patron of the Papakura Table Tennis Club since 2008 and the joint Patron of the Counties Association. There was a story in the Papakura Courier in 2007 when Ivan won the Papakura Club Doubles at the age of 90. A fellow Auckland Committee member referred to him as always strict but fair. He had an engaging personality and was always able to communicate with all ages and all types. As Referee he would ensure that the playing conditions were right. He would check that the barriers were in their right place, and that the net heights were correct at the start of each session. Ivan had a true love for the game.

Ivan played table tennis until he was 94. He said that table tennis had helped him maintain his coordination and fitness in his life. He was a visitor at the 2014 World Veteran Table Tennis Championships in Henderson, Auckland. Ivan enjoys seeing his family: his son Keith and wife Eunice, 4 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Ivan has moved into a rest home in Papakura in 2014.

Thanks to information from Ivan Moffat, Eunice Moffat, Val Beaver, Paul Escott, Bob Gallagher, Brian Hearfield and the Papakura Courier. Photos below are from Eunice Moffat, The Table Tennis New Zealand Archives and from the 2014 World Veterans Championships site.

-Malcolm Wong