Paihia pupils meet AB heroes

By Ashten Macdonald

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Dan Carter, cracked leg and all, with his young fans at Paihia School. Photo / John Stone
Dan Carter, cracked leg and all, with his young fans at Paihia School. Photo / John Stone

When the phone rang at Paihia School, deputy principal Ryan Pearce was stunned to discover it was the All Blacks wanting to pay a visit.

His tongue-in-cheek reply: "I'll have to check the calendar." And anyone who phoned the school yesterday probably had to leave a message after the tone.

The school had its 87-year history marked with a visit by Dan Carter, Jerome Kaino and Charlie Faumuina, who were in the region for the "All Blacks to the Nation" tour.

Even a limping Dan Carter was still a treat for fans following his leg injury in last javascript:%20void(0);weekend's Super Rugby final. For Carter the visit brought back childhood memories.

"When you come to little towns like this, it does remind you of when you were a kid. I would've dreamed to meet some of the guys I used to look up to when I was their age.

"It's an inspiration to see the support we have right throughout the country and makes you realise when you pull on the All Black jersey you're playing for your entire country."

The visit had a personal tie to deputy head Pearce who was classmates with Dan Carter in Christchurch. "We've sort of bumped into each other from time to time. I was working at the pools when I was in university and he used to come in and train, and now here."

One teacher, originally an Aussie, could barely contain her excitement. Michelle Williams is now a passionate All Blacks supporter after formerly supporting her home country. Even in a Bledisloe Cup match, she stays loyal. "I'm an All Blacks supporter, but I always just want the games to be close."

Principal Jane Lindsay, in her second term at the school, said that in the weeks leading up to the visit, students earned special duties on the day for good behaviour.

"We're really promoting manaakitanga, that respect to everyone. So that was a really big thing. The kind of student that is focused and is polite and willing to participate and have a go," Ms Lindsay said.

The opportunity to see their heroes in the flesh was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the young students and some couldn't wait to show off their rugby skills. Cheers and screams from dozens of smiling faces highlighted how special the moment was.

Wiremu Potae, 12, was part of the school's welcoming party and said he had been on his best behaviour in the days leading up to the visit.

"I want to be an All Black prop when I grow up but my favourite player is Dan."

The tour began in 2011 and acknowledges the support of loyal fans in the provinces.

- Northern Advocate

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