The Diary: Familiar face awaits Apiata

Willie Apiata will teach confidence skills to at-risk teenagers. Photo / Greg Bowker
Willie Apiata will teach confidence skills to at-risk teenagers. Photo / Greg Bowker

Youth charity High Wire Trust - where Corporal Willie Apiata, VC, is soon to start work - is run by Tina Grant, widow of Corporal Doug Grant who was killed in Afghanistan last year.

Apiata, 39, will teach confidence life skills to at-risk kids aged 15 to 18 who are looking to break the negative cycle. The trust's outdoor pursuits centre in Papakura is not far from SAS headquarters. Moving on from the military into civilian life was a decision, he said in a statement, "not taken lightly".

It's something Sergeant Tina Grant knows all too well. Her 41-year-old husband Doug, whom she served alongside at Linton Military Camp, was killed in SAS action last year rescuing civilians.

"Speaking for myself, I will never completely cut ties with the force because of my husband," she told The Diary.

Grant will work for the trust full-time from October and, like Apiata, will transfer into the Reserves. An acclimatisation phase is par for the course.

"There is a resettlement period when you exit the system. You get placed into a sort of civilian work experience," she said.

Grant believes her friendship with Apiata and his wife, army cook Sade Waikato, did not have a bearing on the VC holder leaving the SAS and moving to the charity she runs.

"We are great friends. I see them all the time and Willie plays with my kids, but we don't talk about work," Grant said.

"Willie and his wife are good people. They're genuine, honest and want to work hard for their community. They are educators. They believe in shaping the futures of young people," she said.

Grant says kids queue each day to come to the trust. "They are knocking on the gate to get in. They want to be here. It's safe. There's no put-downs, no bullying."

Kids pay $5 a week and get free food and clothes. Army uniforms are provided - but not from the NZDF.

"We purchase them ourselves," she said.

Prime Minister John Key says the country's only living recipient of the Victoria Cross will leave big shoes to fill as he exits the SAS. "The VC speaks volumes of the man who will be missed by his colleagues," Key told The Diary. No mention was made of whether Defence Force bosses will miss their poster boy.

FREEMAN TIPS HIS CAP TO NEW ZEALAND

He was tasked with promoting Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, but actor Morgan Freeman endorsed our country, too.

This week on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York, Freeman, who played Nelson Mandela in the rugby film Invictus, brandished a well-worn New Zealand cap.

The week before, he sported it in LA during promotional media interviews.

Has 75-year-old Freeman become a sartorial spokesman for Godzone?

He evaded Letterman's questions about the cap. "You're wearing a cap from New Zealand. Rugby World Cup. Are you a rugby fan?" the host asked.

"No," the star replied.

All Blacks media manager Joe Locke said there's no doubt Freeman "was exposed to the team, and what we are about, when he was filming [Invictus] in South Africa".

NICE 'N NATURAL VS COLOURFUL RIVAL

Like fine wine, some men get better with age.

TV3's Olympics-bound news anchor Mike McRoberts, 46, has been affectionately dubbed McSilverFox for embracing the salt and pepper look.

A TV3 insider wryly calls him "50 Shades of Grey".

McRob - who's been known to practise his Blue Steel pose while Hilary Barry reads the news - will head up an experienced team of eight reporting from London.

Meanwhile, his rival over at TV One, Simon Dallow, 48 - who will lead a six-person TVNZ team at the Games - is evidently sporting a more, er, sun-kissed crop.

It prompted one Twitter snitch to bitch: "McRoberts wears the silvery look well, much better than Dallow's new do."

TWO WITS TO WOO QUIZ FUNDRAISER

He's used to grilling her in Parliament and she's used to defending her patch, but on August 10 Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and political editor Duncan Garner will play on the same team. They're hosting the Eden Park Hall of Legends fundraising lunch and quiz - and already the quips are coming quick and fast.

"It will be fun to ask the questions instead of answering them," Bennett told The Diary. "Duncan and I will be like a modern-day Selwyn Toogood and Tineke Bouchier - only shorter and not so nice."

Garner says they've played a double act before. "We MC'd a wedding together. I call her 'Paula Benefit' and she calls me 'Guyon Espiner'."

They won't be the only quick wits attending. A slew of celebrity big-names are going, including the aforementioned Espiner, Martin Snedden, Mark Sainsbury, Winston Peters, Stu Wilson, Joe Stanley, Jim Kayes, AJ Whetton, Jayne Kiely, Martin Devlin, Bill Ralston and others. They're all eager to win the coveted sports and history quiz competition.

The competitive spirit is heating up. "I've looked at the competition and I can say confidently that they're all playing for the silver medal," Devlin said with bravado.

Sainso retorted: "Devlin's been boasting that he will clean up. I wondered if he'd read that it's a sport AND history quiz. Then I thought how cruel of me, of course he hasn't."

Profits go to the Eden Park Hall of Legends which hosts some of our most important sporting memorabilia.

CLUELESS IN QUEENSTOWN

An American bartender in Queenstown was clueless when the Flight of the Conchords came to town. A reader overheard the following conversation:

American barman: "G'dday buddy, what can I get you?"

Bret McKenzie: "Two beers thanks."

AB: "So, what'ya been up to tonight, mate?"

BM: "Oh, I was just at the Flight of the Conchords."

AB: "Oh yeah, I heard about that, what were they like?"

BM: "Oh they were great - I really enjoyed it!"

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 25 Jul 2014 14:54:01 Processing Time: 449ms