(by Malcolm Wong)

Murray Dunn in 1958
Murray Dunn in 1958

Murray Dunn was born in 1935 and died on 19 July 2015 in Auckland, aged 79. His obituary was in the New Zealand Herald.

He was a former Wellington and New Zealand Table Tennis player. Murray was NZ Table Tennis Singles Champion (1960-63), ranked Number 1 on the NZ Men’s List (1960-63 and 1965), NZ Player of the Year (1961, 1962 and 1965) and went to 3 World Table Tennis Championships (1954, 1961 and 1967). He is in the Table Tennis Hall of Fame (1999).

His Hall of Fame article said that ‘Murray was the possessor of a wonderful match temperament coupled with quick reflexes and nimble footwork. His backhand kill was a consistent and accurate winner. He was able to rally for long periods, hitting the same shot from either side of the table until the point was won’.

Murray first played table tennis for Island Bay Tennis. He was in the 1948 Wellington Under 16 Boys Team that beat Hutt Valley 10-2. Murray won his first title in 1949. It was the Wellington Under 16 Boy’s Singles and Doubles (with Dave Marple). He also The Wellington Open Second Grade Singles. The following year he won the NZ Under 16 Boy’s Singles. In 1951, Murray played for the Trojans Club which won the Wellington A Grade interclub. He was ranked Number 1 in the Wellington Men’s List at age 16 and was selected in the Wellington Men’s Team. Murray was to be the Number 1 ranked Wellington Man for 12 of the next 14 years. He did not play in 1956 and was ranked Number 2 in 1959 to John Crossley.

In 1952, Murray won the Hutt Valley, Wanganui and Wellington Open Men’s Singles. He won the NZ Men’s Doubles with Ken Stanley (England). Also the North Island and NZ Under 18 Boy’s Singles Champion.

Murray was also a very good tennis player. He joined the Island Bay Tennis Club and won the Junior Boy’s Singles for 3 consecutive years (1949-50, 1950-51 and 1951-52). He was the Number 1 ranked Wellington Junior Boy (1951/52 to 1953/54) and won the Wellington Junior Boy’s Singles (1953) and Boys Doubles (1949, 1950, 1953) with Tony Darroch. Murray won the 1953 NZ Tennis Junior Mixed Doubles with Betty Nelson and was runner up in the 1952 and 1953 NZ Junior Boy’s Doubles with Tony Darroch. He was selected for the 1953 NZ Tennis Junior Boy’s Team which went to Australia. Murray missed the 1954 NZ Tennis Junior Championships due to him traveling by ship (Rangitoto) to England for the World Table Tennis Championships. He would have been one of the favourites for the NZ Tennis Junior Boy’s Singles after being a quarter finalist (1952) and semi finalist (1953).

Murray was ranked for 5 years in the Wellington Men’s Tennis List. 1952/53 (9th equal) 1953/54 (4) 1954/55 (5) 1955/56 (4) 1956/57 (5). He was in the Wellington Men’s Team that won the 1955 Wilding Shield (NZ Men’s Interprovincial Teams Competition).

Murray was in the 1956 Victoria University Team that won the NZ University Tennis Shield jointly with Canterbury University. He won the NZ University Men’s Doubles with Barry Boon and was awarded a NZ University Blue. Murray reached the Quarter Finals of the 1956 NZ Tennis Championships Men’s Singles and was ranked 10th on the NZ Men’s Rankings (1955/56). He was runner up in the 1957 NZ Tennis Men’s Doubles, with Bob Howe (Australia). Murray won the 1957 Wellington Open Men’s Doubles, with John Barry.

Murray played A Grade Table tennis for the Trojan Club that played out of Bill Wah’s Garage in Adelaide Road in Newtown. Trojans dominated the Wellington A Grade Interclub Competition winning the Gerald Bell Memorial Cup (1951-52, 1954-55, 1958-1964 ). John Crossley was also everpresent in the Trojan’s Team. He and Murray won the Wellington Men’s Doubles ( 1953, 1955, 1957-58 and 1960-61), the 1959 North Island Men’s Doubles and the 1954 NZ Men’s Doubles. John was the 1949 Scottish Open Men’s Singles Champion. He was also a good tennis player and was ranked in the Wellington Tennis Men’s List.

Murray won 27 Provincial Open Singles titles including 9 Wellington Open and 8 Hutt Valley Open Titles. He also won the North Island Men’s Singles (1960 and 1965). Murray won 17 NZ Open Titles. They were 4 Men’s Singles (1960-63), 8 Men’s Doubles (1952, 1954, 1960-61, 1963-66) and 5 Mixed Doubles (1961-65).

Murray was in the Wellington Men’s Team that won the Kean Shield (NZ Men’s Interprovincial Teams Tournament) in 1954 and 1961-64.

Murray represented NZ at 3 World Table Tennis Championships. At his first Championship in London, England (1954) at age 18 he was the best performer in the Men’s Team winning 13 of his 20 singles matches including all 3 in the wins against Australia and Switzerland. Murray reached the 3rd Round of the Men’s Singles losing to the eventual winner, Ichiro Ogimura (Japan). Following the Championships he won the 1954 Scottish Open Men’s Doubles with Gary Few.

In the 1961 World Championships (Peking, China) Murray was Team Captain. In his last World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden (1967) Murray reached the last 32 in the Men’s Singles, to equal the performance of Russ Algie (1948). He retired from table tennis after the 1967 World Championships.

Murray was selected for the 1960 NZ Team in the test against Australia in Whangarei. Alan Tomlinson and Bryan Foster played the singles and Murray and Alan played the doubles. Australia won 3-2. Murray and Alan Tomlinson were selected as the 1962 NZ Men’s Team which toured Australia and played 2 tests. The first test was lost 2-3 and the second test won 3-2. Murray and Alan won the New South Wales Championship Doubles. In 1964 The Australian Men’s Team toured NZ. Murray played in all 3 tests. Australia won 3-2, 4-1 and 5-0.

Murray was ranked 13 times on the NZ Men’s list between 1953-66. He was Number 1 on 5 occasions (1960-63 and 1965).

Murray moved to Auckland in 1965. He started as a pharmacist in Pakuranga (1965) and then moved to Manukau (1970). He was the first person to bring Clinique to the country and the second to introduce Estee Lauder. Murray helped form Life Pharmacy in 1995. He was one of ten founding directors. The company listed on the NZX in 2005 and merged with Pharmacybrands in 2009, creating the company now known as Green Cross Health.

Information in this article came from the Dominion Newspaper, The Salient (Victoria University of Wellington Student Newspaper), Wellington Table Tennis Annual Reports, New Zealand Table Tennis Annual Reports, TTNZ Chronicles, TTNZ Photo Archives, Wellington Tennis Annual Reports, Tennis Archives, Island Bay Tennis Club, The Alexander Turnbull Library, The National Library and Pharmacy Today.

-Malcolm Wong

1951 Wellington Men’s and Women’s Teams
1951 Wellington Men’s and Women’s Teams. L/R back: P Shore, M L Dunn, H Chapman, C P Shewan middle: J S Crossley, A M Hughes (women’s captain), A F Menzies (manager), L M Wilson (men’s captain), C J Lawrie front: M Kwok, M Green

1954 NZ Men’s Team to World Championships England
1954 NZ Men’s Team to World Championships England L/R: R V Jackson, W O Jaine, H N Ballinger (seated – Manager), G A J Frew, M L Dunn

Trojans Interclub Team, 1954 Wellington A Grade Interclub Champions.
Trojans Interclub Team – 1954 Wellington A Grade Interclub Champions with the Gerald Bell Memorial Cup. L/R: Murray Dunn, John Stewart, John Crossley, John Sigley, Bill Wah (seated)

1954 Wellington Table Tennis Men’s and Women’s Teams.
1954 Wellington Table Tennis Men’s and Women’s Teams. Winners of the NZ Interprovincial Men’s and Women’s Teams Tournament. Left – Teagle Shield (Women) and Kean Shield (Men). L/R: back: Pat Quinn, Ivan Houghton, John Crossley, Colin Shewan, Val Cousins Middle: John Sigley, Audrey Hughes, Tony Darroch, Murray Dunn, Eileen Brown Front: Thyra McGregor, Ann Wah.

1955 Wellington Tennis Men’s Team.
1955 Wellington Tennis Men’s Team. Winners of the Anthony Wilding shield. Standing – John McDonald, Murray Dunn, John Barry, Peter Nicholls. Seated – Stan Ramson, Ron McKenzie.

1961 Wellington A Grade Interclub Champions.
Trojans Table Tennis Team. 1961 Wellington A Grade Interclub Champions. L/R: John Stewart, Dick Moffat, Murray Dunn, John Crossley (Seated).

1967 NZ Table Tennis Team visiting a factory in England.
1967 NZ Table Tennis Team visiting a factory in England. Murray Dunn is second on left.