Beyonce wrapped her last Auckland gig on Saturday night and raced off stage to fly out of the country by private jet. But waiting for her in the wings were surprise gifts by acclaimed Maori artists and an impromptu private haka led by Stan Walker. The queen of pop was rendered speechless and welled up with tears - but not before attempting the war dance herself.
"It was a truly epic experience," Maori fashion designer Kiri Nathan told The Diary. She presented Beyonce with a contemporary korowai (Maori cloak) she had made herself, and a pounamu (greenstone) piece carved by her husband, Jason, who had also made a pounamu toki for Beyonce's 21-month-old daughter Blue Ivy.
"I said a quiet karakia as I approached her and told her that I had made some taonga for her so she will always be connected to Aotearoa, the people, the land. I placed the korowai on her, and Jason gave her the pounamu, and I explained their significance," Nathan said.
"Then I presented her with a toki for Blue Ivy, which was cut from the same greenstone. I said, 'This will keep you connected to each other and to New Zealand, and it will keep you safe on your journey together'. I gave her a hongi and we hugged and she burst into tears. She was just so overwhelmed and moved."
Moments earlier, Walker - who opened Beyonce's Auckland concerts and will do so in Sydney next week, stepping in for Iggy Azalea who has pulled out - led an impromptu haka for the 32-year-old star with members of the stage crew. "She didn't know about it and was completely surprised when she ran off stage and was suddenly welcomed by the haka. The energy was so intense - she started doing the haka back!" said a rep for Sony, the label representing Beyonce and Walker.
Beyonce bans all crew membersfrom taking photos backstage, but a mobile phone video of Walker leading the crew in a haka with a clearly jubilant Beyonce joining in has been posted to YouTube.
"The room was filled with mana and respect for her. Everyone was emotional," Nathan said. "Beyonce was so overwhelmed by the haka and the gifts, she couldn't stop thanking us all. She knew the significance and was really genuine in her gratitude, it was all from the heart."
Nathan said she pulled an all-nighter to make the cloak in time, and her husband raced to finish the pieces of pounamu for mother and daughter. "Her production manager said, 'Hey, what about the dad? Jay-Z will want some of this too!"'
What a week
Disgraced mayor Len Brown went to ground last week and shunned all public appearances - even the Prime Minister's Olympic Gala Dinner on Thursday night ... but that didn't stop the host from expressing amusement on stage at Len's very public pickle.
"Welllllllll, it's been a helluva week!" John Key joked to cheers and claps from the 1000 guests crammed in the ballroom of the Pullman Hotel. "You couldn't write this stuff down! Geez, who knows what will happen next!"
The absence of the mayor and mayoress provided the chance for much chitchat on the sex scandal that gripped Auckland last week.
Julie Christie joined National MPs Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee. Sam Hayes, Candy Lane, Willie Apiata VC, Lisa Carrington, Rob Waddell, Inga Tuigamala and Sir Graham Henry were there too.
There were more knights at the bash than you could shake a stick at: Sir Les Mills, Sir David Levene, Sir John Graham, Sir Stephen Tindall and Sir Owen Glenn, whose eponymous family foundation donated $500,000 that night to the inaugural Yvette Williams Olympic Scholarship, to be administered by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
Glenn took a swipe at the Government and said the annual $500,000 scholarship was about supporting future generations of athletes. "It was either this or a Rolls-Royce, Yvette," he added.
However, it was the PM who drew the laughs. "Sir Owen," he retorted, "don't worry if you feel you don't have influence on the government. Sometimes I feel the same way. We wish all our future leaders the very best. If their name is David Cunliffe, then probably not so much."
Slacker meets cougar
TVNZ is taking a punt on a new primetime local dramedy to screen next year with two little-known leads. How refreshing. Step Dave, created by Kate McDermott (Go Girls, Outrageous Fortune) and produced by South Pacific Pictures, starts filming next month. It follows Dave, a 24-year-old Kiwi slacker (played by Jono Kenyon), who meets cougar Cara (played by Sia Trokenheim), 15 years his senior with three kids and some serious baggage in tow. It's a modern Kiwi love story.
NZ on Air has doled out $6.6 million for the 13 hour-long episodes, and much is riding on the newbie thesps to make the show work. It will be nice to see some fresh faces on the telly, but critics will expect a hit with that sort of financial support for an overseas-owned TV company.
Dirt file for the memoirs
So, John Key keeps a top drawer of secrets. A furtive "dirt file" on Labour MPs hidden away for safe-keeping which, he says, may make "quite a fascinating" book one day. Is the PM trying to do me out of a job? Key's revelation about his cloak-and-dagger dossier may surprise some. Namely rascal Labour luvvies. But in the Machiavellian game of politics, keeping dirt on your opponents is par for the course.
Tem, the TV show
The Life And Times Of Temuera Morrison begins Wednesday, November 6, and the eight-episode reality show for TV One shows the 53-year-old in a revealing light - including his intimate relationship with his model girlfriend Ashlee Howden-Sadlier, 25 years his junior. The pair posed up at the PM's gala dinner on Thursday with Morrison among the VIPs. But his series shows it wasn't always that way, with Tem searching for work and desperately getting his life back on track.