It's been a long time since John Flower wowed a Far North audience. In fact it will be 40 years this year since he won the Monty Knight Trophy, presented by the donor himself, as the best musician overall of those taught at Kaitaia Primary School by one Mr Thompson, a Canadian who had arrived at the school laden down with a vast array of musical instruments.
John, his parents Brian and Shirley and his two siblings left Kaitaia in 1976, but the young man who was runner-up in the brass section at that long ago prizegiving (beaten by a kid called Ted, who allegedly slipped in one final lesson that gave him the edge), who has fond memories of piano lessons from Del Jackson and playing in the Kaitaia Municipal Brass Band, has never forgotten his boyhood in the Far North.
He and wife Felicity would return one day, he said earlier this week, but their immediate sights were set on Kerikeri, where they, New Zealand's reigning tango champions, will perform at the Turner Centre on Saturday week (February 23), along with an "amazing" pianist and a guitarist/vocalist, who will take the stage with them.
They were hoping to get up to Kerikeri tomorrow to perform for and with local school and dance students, but that hadn't been confirmed.
John said he initially took up ice skating when the family moved to Auckland in 1976, and he excelled there too, reaching gold level as a dancer on ice, but these days the tango was his and Felicity's passion. They had travelled to Buenos Aires several times for the world championships, to gain inspiration, he said, but for the moment the couple are looking to provide inspiration themselves for a new generation of dancers.