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posted Jul 7, 2016, 6:09 PM by Nigel Tomkins   [ updated Jul 7, 2016, 6:11 PM ]

New details of Southland motorcycle hero Burt Munro come to light with the publication of a book by a former Invercargill reporter.

Apart from racing and Salt Lake experiences, BURT MUNRO – THE LOST INTERVIEWS brings stories of Burt’s motorcycling in early Southland, his life in Australia in the 1920s and again in the early 1950s, and of Burt’s adventures on the road through the United States on his many trips.

An interlude in the book tells, in the words of two of New Zealand’s great motorcycle riders, the controversial TT race in Holland where Burt witnessed riders strike for fairer prize money by pulling into the pits.

Early NZ adventures include Burt’s ride up the Hollyford Valley while the road was being built, and excitement as a salesman for Tapper’s in Invercargill, especially when he was riding the one-speed (flat out) bike powered by the coal-gas unit he built. And the explosion when he was tempering steel at Melhop’s, and how Burt remembered his high-speed crash at Teretonga.

BURT MUNRO – THE LOST INTERVIEWS is Burt Munro’s story in his own words as recorded in a series of interviews with Southland reporter Neill Birss, nearly 50 years ago. It rounds out the Munro history with stories of his life not printed before.

In those days Burt was well known among New Zealand and American motorcyclists, but it was before the 2005 film, THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins made Burt a world celebrity.

The young reporter’s plan was to write series of articles on Munro for overseas and New Zealand motorcycle magazine. The project was interrupted when Birss moved to Christchurch. The notes, which had been taken in the first person, were lost. Then after the Christchurch earthquakes was dumping rubbish to make room for home repairers when he found the notes just as they were about to go into a skip.

The book, published by Penguin Random House New Zealand, is available in print format at $35, and will also available as an electronic book.

Neill Birss 
Phone: 03 358-8750 

Nigel Tomkins,
Jul 7, 2016, 6:11 PM