Tommy Wilson: Buzz ahead of his time

By Tommy Wilson

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To infinity and beyond.
To infinity and beyond.

You learn a lot at funerals as you do tangi, both about the person you are farewelling and the friends and whanau they leave behind.

Personally I prefer a three-day tangi when everyone gets a chance to say, sing, sledge and salute to the person you are there to pay your respects to.

However, the condensed version of a three-hour chapel service followed by a singe is what it is and was last Saturday, for all of us who walked on the wild side - in the decade of decadence, and showed up with a whole lotta love for a legend we knew as Buzz.

For many sitting and standing at the full house funeral we came from different decades, and our connections to Buzzer were far different journeys.

But the song remained the same from the stories told and the overwhelming common korero was this was a wonderful man who was well loved and lived life to infinity and beyond, as his name suggested.

We let him go, albeit reluctantly - to infinity and beyond, on the wings and a prayer of a dozen white doves and a farewell waiata calling out to the other side, to let them know our brother from another mother was coming home - to infinity and beyond.

If it were a Maori tangi and time was on our side, I would have told the story of how, back in the day when Buzzer and I were both tins of cocoa (tena koutou) in our greetings and the car keys were left behind in Te Anau (Ka kite ano) for our farewells, it was he who hauled us both along to our first te reo lesson with Hinemanu Ohia at the local nurses' home up at Tauranga Hospital.

This was in the 70s way before the culturally cool, long brown cloud had come to town.
And if I had not taken up his challenge I would not have heard Hinemanu tell the story of Mauao and how it was caught in the morning light that became the background for my first ever children's books, Kapai the Kiwi.

Kia ora Kiriama, your gift lives on as does your friendship and all of its fond memories.
A friendship forged by the catchcry we both shared.

"Never grow up as that is the first step to growing old."

For me the memories of this good mate were like old age itself in so much as "if you remember the 70s then you can't have been there".

This from a man larger than life, who had a classic Cheshire cat grin - right hand on chin, rocking back and forth on his heels, as he contemplated not just the next move but the after match function - while the right hand played billiards in his pocket in a victory salute to the opposition he had just outplayed.

It was pure poetry and theatre at its best and we had front row seats to the show.
Some people are just visitors to this planet, with a ticket to ride this huge rock for all it's worth to who knows where.

Buzz was one such special passenger who deserved a Pulitzer prize for pulling the most rabbits out of his potae and squeezing more juice out of life than any other I have met.

While others would take on a branch or target a tree to find satisfaction, Buzz took on the whole damn orchard and then still took time to see what was up ahead in the distance or over the fence in the neighbour's backyard.

He and his loyal "sergeant at arms" Hone Tuwhare - as we affectionately called his brother John - could cook kai like no other and their "singes" were legendary barbecues, as were the garnishings that went with them.

The irony of the final farewell at the crematorium chapel was this was a "singe" and a soiree the master chef would have to sit out.

But dance we did back in the decade of decadence.

Let's dance was all David needed to say as did the Sultans of Swing, and the Sailor Boys with their Blue Ladies took us to the gutter and back - while Roxanne and her red light had us carving up the carpet like no other song could.

There was a lot to be learned from the life of one of life's good buggers.

How it was lived, laughed and loved - and who with.

Sometimes it took a couple of laps of the partner pool to get it right, as many there could attest to.

However, once you were swimming in sync - by letting each other be, and loving them for who they were and not what you wanted them to be, then and only then could the full potential of the relationship and beyond be reached.

Graham Charles Hare who we knew as Buzz was light years ahead of his time.
Ka kite toku hoa

To infinity and beyond!

- broblack@xtra.co.nz

- Tommy Wilson is a best-selling author and local writer

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