IF YOU ask New Zealanders who their heroes are, my guess is sporting superstars are high on the list.
My childhood hero was cricketer Martin Crowe. I had his book. My aunt took me to see him play at Eden Park. My cousin made me a t-shirt that said ‘I Love Martin Crowe’.
I got to meet him as an adult. Never meet your heroes they say, but I feel so lucky to have met mine. He was a loving and kind man. Rest in peace Martin.
These days my heroes are very different. They are the people who do things every day to make our world a better place for all of us, and they tackle the really hard stuff. One is comedian Mike King and his work on suicide prevention with the Key To Life charitable trust (www.keytolife.org.nz). I lost a great friend this year and I desperately wish I had known about how depression in men can present so differently to what I thought, something I read about on their website when it was too late. I miss you so much John.
This year I also discovered another great New Zealand hero, and you’ll get to meet him on page 12. He is someone who has spent his whole life – from age five or so – working to love, honour and protect the native trees we are so lucky to have in this country. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop reading about this self-effacing man who shares the stories and history of our country and its people through trees. He’s also personally contributed to saving species like the cabbage tree, pohutukawa and rata. It is a truly heroic effort to me. Thank you Philip.
This mighty totara hasn’t fallen, but it’s pretty windswept on its hill site near banks peninsula.