New Zealanders of the year

By Carroll du Chateau, Geoff Cumming, Greg Dixon, Martha McKenzie-Minifie, Simon Collins, Eugene Bingham, Catherine Masters, Dana Johannsen, Yvonne Tahana

Here are the stories of a dozen individuals who have made a difference in 2008.

First, our two heroes who share the title: Austin Hemmings and Tony McClean. These two men were chosen because of their selfless courage in putting the lives of others ahead of their own.

Tony McClean

It could have been a time of absolute terror. They were cold and trapped, and the deadly water kept rising in the swollen river.

Elim Christian College teacher Tony McClean had already scoured the narrow section of the flooded Mangatepopo Stream trying to find a safe way out.

But the group of 12 was stuck on the rocky ledge, with no option for McClean, Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre instructor Jodie Sullivan and the 10 college pupils but to get in the treacherous water and try to float their way to safety.

The 29-year-old was a surfer, had run camps himself and knew the outdoors well. He must have known the immense danger they were in.

But McClean didn't panic - he turned on his charisma, reminding the teenagers of the hot showers back at base.

He roused the pupils into singing silly songs, as survivor Sarah Brooks described them, allaying the screams of terror so likely in the situation and taking the time to pray with each pupil before they entered the torrent.

Parent Nadia McPhail told his mother, Jeanette McClean, this week that she had "peace" knowing he was with her daughter Portia before she died.

It is this leadership - the strength in extreme adversity - that those close to McClean are so proud of.

"Those kids on that ledge, although that was the last half-hour of their lives, they were happy, they felt safe," girlfriend Ruth Nixon, 26, told the Weekend Herald in her first interview about the tragedy, seven months on.

"He made them feel secure."

Six students and McClean ultimately perished. Four students and Jodie Sullivan lived. McClean's father, John, says police are still investigating and can not yet give many details, but an officer had reassured him the stories of his eldest son keeping it together and caring for the teenagers on the ledge were "absolutely right".

McClean was the last to leave the rocky post, and bound disabled international student Tom Hsu to his own fit frame before entering the water, making what many consider to be the ultimate sacrifice.

His attempt to save Tom, 16, who had cerebral palsy, would have cut his own chance of survival but the McClean family believe the thought of not helping could never have entered his mind.

Sullivan had taken survivor Ashley Smith with her. Another student, Anthony Mulder was bound to friend Floyd Fernandes - both of whom died in the escape attempt.

"If it wasn't Tom, it would have been one of the others," says Jeanette McClean, who is convinced her son was where he was meant to be on that tragic day in April.

"He wouldn't have gone alone."

She believes her son's life had followed a path from childhood through education, to travel and an awakening that lead him to try to change the lives of impoverished people in Mexico, New Zealand and Nepal.

Although McClean was yet to turn 30, he was a natural leader and had looked out for other people since he was a child.

As a young boy, he was serious and once siblings Paul, now 27, Daniel, 24, and Hannah, 15, arrived, he entertained them and chose the games of the day.

"They were lost when he went out," said Jeanette McClean.

In Year 6 - or Standard 4 as it was then known - the Carlton School, Wanganui, pupil was awarded a leadership prize at Sunday school, recognising his way of looking after newcomers. As he got older and the family moved north to Auckland, the serious side of McClean's personality took a back seat and an he developed a more outgoing and "nutty" nature, in which no one was an outsider and nicknames were the norm.

He made such an impact on one girl at a Scripture Union camp he led with girlfriend Ruth Nixon last summer that the girl intends to get his name tattooed in remembrance.

For years, he mentored a pupil with Asperger's Syndrome, Zac, who he met while teaching at St Thomas' Primary in Kohimarama in 2005, prompting the boy's mother, Michelle Blaxall-Robinson to write in tribute: "He has been a quiet hero to us in the Robinson family for some time."

She told of how she did not share Tony's faith but he reached out and helped her family all the same.

"If a saint were to walk among us in these contemporary times, what would he look like?" she asked.

"I can't help but answer [that] he would be wearing boardies and an earring."

John McClean found a three-year plan on his late son's computer that mapped out how the Eastview Baptist Church would work with an education and health development group run by his friend Chanman Harijan in Nepal.

The Tony McClean Nepal Trust has been set up to realise at least part of that plan.

Jeanette McClean said New Zealanders would go to help carry out the work, living her late son's desire for people to live their faith and make a change.

He spoke of belief in a sermon he gave in 2006 that she now calls "almost prophetic".

"He talked about how, as a Christian, it will radically change your life," she said, "and you could even be called to give up your life."

- Martha McKenzie-Minifie

Donations to the Tony McClean Nepal Trust can be made to 06-0293-0101728-00 or PO Box 38-512, Howick 2145.

Austin Hemmings

So how does the family of a hero survive under the worst kind of pressure? In the case of Austin Hemmings' family, with considerable grace.

Nineteen-year-old Meghann is curled up on the verandah of her Devonport home when I arrive to talk about her father's nomination for New Zealander of the Year: a tawny bundle of long limbs, sea-bleached hair, white teeth and blue eyes - just like her Dad. Her mother, Jenny, is chatting to a man washing the roof next door.

This is a nice, civilised neighbourhood, young mothers pushing buggies, people working in their gardens, no sign of trouble.

It is only 10 months since the family moved to Auckland, and only two months since Hemmings lay dying in a pool of blood in Mills Lane in the central city, just five steps from the lift to his office.

Although the family he left behind are "humbled and grateful" at the recognition, the realisation that Hemmings is gone is still raw. Yet along with the sense of loss is a family keeping the spirit of their father and husband alive - living his dream, demonstrating his positive strength.

Hemmings' bravery and nonsensical death also had a monumental effect on everyday New Zealanders. It shook the New Zealand psyche. Those who didn't believe in heroism thought again.

Those who had rejected Christianity long ago possibly took a deep breath and admired the guts of a man who prayed every day for the strength to do the right thing - and made it his life's mission to be a better person.

We debated the simple virtues of kindness and goodness versus the modern "common sense" course of turning away from trouble. We mourned for the death of someone his wife calls "an ordinary man", but who most of us know was a truly extraordinary one - a man who gave his life for others - yet didn't lose his own identity in the process.

Jenny is back teaching art full-time at Takapuna Grammar where their two younger children, Jessica and Gareth, are students. Meghann is finishing the second year of her fashion design course at AUT. She used to get a ride with her Dad at 6.45am to beat the commuter traffic, then sit and chat with his workmates at NZI as she drank her morning mochaccino. She remembers how Hemmings' optimism rubbed off on people and set the culture of the office. "They talked to each other about books and ideas. Dad was quite diplomatic - good at putting his ideas across."

"And a good judge of character," her mother quips. "He chose me."

From the time she met Hemmings at church Youth Group when he was 20, Jenny knew she had to share. He was not a watery kind of Christian. Looking after people was more important than the rules and trappings of religion. The family did not go to church on Christmas Day, which they usually spent at the family farm in Matamata. Nor had the children been formally baptised.

Hemmings also had strong political opinions focused on personal responsibility and would have been delighted at John Key's victory.

But there was depth, says Meghann. "To have a strong opinion needs substance and to get substance you need research. Dad would listen intently to the news then go off and research a topic, weigh the options."

People valued Hemmings' judgment and he made a point of being available: colleagues, church members, family, friends, they all had his cellphone number - and used it.

"He was a leader," says his boss at NZI, Jo Mason. "He'd come in every day and check the mood of his staff, schedule a couple of coffee meetings. Morale was never better. And for me he was a sounding board, confidante and friend."

He was also quick, perhaps too quick, to help others. His widow mulls over his decision to help a defenceless woman, and accepts it as an integral part of him. "He nearly risked his life once before," she says, "But I stopped him. A man was caught in a rip. Austin, a very strong swimmer, was about to dive in and I persuaded him to run down the beach and get the lifeguard instead."

That bought her around 10 more years of blissfully happy marriage.

At heart Hemmings was a family man. Most nights everyone was home by 5.30. "Dad would come in and say 'how about a walk?"' says Meghann.

But on Thursday September 26 he didn't arrive. Instead, he had walked out of the lift at work to find two people struggling on Mills Lane.

The woman called for help. Hemmings, a seasoned insurance broker, decided to take the risk.

By 5.25 - precisely the time his car should have pulled into the driveway - he was dead, a knife through his heart.

Today his widow and daughter are at home going through the family photos, album after album chronicling dozens of holidays and fun, and the many moves with Hemmings' job.

There's Hemmings with the kids on the tractor at Opito Bay; with his brother and cousins on the Matamata farm; many with Jenny, including one of her standing in her wedding dress on the edge of the family swimming pool as her new husband explains why he had not packed her swimming togs.

"Sure he wasn't perfect," she says. "We had our spats. He was human." And for the first time this lion of a woman overflows with sudden tears. "I listen to Gran and Pop have their little snipes and banters and I wish I had someone!"

"But Dad would always come up to my room and apologise," says Meghann.

"And we Hemmings are an optimistic lot, aren't we?" The quaver in her voice is almost imperceptible. "If you build your life on Christian morals you have something to hang your life on. You always have hope. There isn't a day when I don't look forward to the future because it will always work out."

They are keeping his tradition these holidays: Christmas Day at the Matamata farm with his parents Dick and Greta and brothers Grant and Craig and their families. A trip to Israel, "something Austin wanted to do next" where Jenny will scatter some of his ashes and get the children baptised. She and Meghann have also organised a side trip to France and Italy for the family. Jenny also intends getting together with Diane, the woman Austin saved.

Although Jenny feels uneasy about it, they may use some of the money collected by people who knew of them in Napier and wanted to give them something to help. It is just dawning that she has three children to raise alone. Her salary will be important from now on. "It is a gift of sympathy, it would be ungrateful not to take it."

Probably Hemmings would not have rejected this money either. He was, after all, a man of our times and money is part of that. He worked in insurance, made a good living, owned a relatively fancy house in Devonport, took his kids on trips, owned laptops, flat-screen TVs and so on. .

But for Austin Hemmings, one of our New Zealanders of the Year, that stuff was only a sideshow. For him it was all about love.

- Carroll Du Chateau

The following people were contenders for New Zealander of the Year:

Murray Burton
Anthony Mulder
Owen Glenn
Jaquie Brown
Dean Kini
Patrick Kelly
Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell
Tony Adeane
Sophie Pascoe
Rawiri Te Whare

Murray Burton and Anthony Mulder
Braving tragedy

In the aftermath of the Mangatepopo tragedy , stories of many heroes emerged.

Among them was Anthony Mulder who at just 16 mirrored the heroic actions of teacher Tony McClean by tying his friend to him in a bid to save his life. Anthony and his friend Floyd Fernandes perished.

As the country struggled to come to terms with what had happened, Elim Christian College principal Murray Burton led the school community through its most trying period.

In vastly different ways, their actions stand out as examples of how the best character can shine through in the worst of times.

On that frightening afternoon in April, stranded in the canyon with his schoolmates, Anthony stood up to help his distressed friend. Anthony was tall and strong, a man of a boy, while Floyd was much smaller and scared of the water.

In the weeks after, Anthony's mother, Miriam, spoke out.

"It was a big thing for a 16-year-old to do but that's the sort of selfless boy he was," she said. "He couldn't have lived with himself if he'd let Floyd go down on his own knowing how frightened he was."

As the school year drew to a close, Anthony was remembered in an unusual way. Under the guidance of Burton, students were allowed to bend the rules.

"Anthony, at the end of the year would take hold of his exercise book or his text book and feed it into his spud gun, shoot it into the air," says Burton. "So we brought the spud gun to school and we had some fun."

This week, memorial awards were handed out in honour of the seven people from the school who were lost on that day, including pupils Tasha Bray, Portia McPhail, Tara Gregory and Tom Hsu.

A breakfast is held for each of their birthdays, among many other marks of remembrance.

The faith-based Howick school with its roll of 500 could have been devastated and pulled apart by the horrific loss but appears to be growing closer amid the healing.

"There are a lot of good things going on," says Burton, who describes the tragedy as the toughest challenge faced in his 18 years as a school principal. "But it's a long and hard journey."

While Burton is reluctant to take credit, his leadership must have had a significant influence on this result. So many people were hit by the sense of loss that he simultaneously helped organise care for grieving students, their families and the community.

Burton was recognised by his peers with a New Zealand Principals Federation Award this year for his work at that time.

The welfare of the families of those who died remains his foremost concern. While talking about the possible two years of court inquiries into the Mangatepopo disaster, his worry about the toll it will take on those who lost loved ones is obvious.

But it does not prompt him to consider leaving the profession?

"It's been an honour, an absolute honour to be a principal on this occasion," says Burton.

"I would have rather avoided it but since I have found myself in the situation it's been an honour to walk the journey with these wonderful parents."

- Martha McKenzie-Minifie

Owen Glenn
Bold businessman with heart

The anonymity enjoyed by one of the country's richest men began to dissolve on New Year's Eve when Owen Glenn was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Until then, few New Zealanders had heard of the ex-pat shipping magnate who left Mt Roskill Grammar at 15 and created a global giant in OTS Logistics Group. Some knew of his $7.5 million contribution to a new business school at Auckland University which would be named in his honour, his donations to charities and worthy causes - and to the Labour Party.

Born in India but raised in New Zealand, he had not lived here since 1966 - instead globetrotting between Sydney, Monaco, the French Riviera, Los Angeles, England and Fiji while overseeing the growth of a company which moves containers around 105 countries.

As soon as he made millions, he was giving it away - funding water and sanitation projects in Macau, fighting child trafficking in remote Indian villages, establishing leper colonies in China and bankrolling a scholarship for Maori school students started in Rotorua by his friend Sir Howard Morrison.

He didn't give it all away, however. The sports-loving 68-year-old owns racehorses and rents a villa in France built for King Leopold II of Belgium with sweeping views of the Mediterranean.

The jetsetter with a Catholic faith developed a keen sense of his place in the world. "I basically put the backbone of the business together - created it, without capital, in the highly competitive business. There are 4000 direct competitors in the US alone."

Predictably, Opposition types tried to make something of the New Year's gong because Glenn had given $500,000 to Labour before the 2005 election campaign and loaned them another $100,000 afterwards.

But political knives really sharpened when he visited in February to open the Owen Glenn building and let slip that Prime Minister Helen Clark had offered him a cabinet post (a claim she denied). Then it emerged that he had lobbied to become New Zealand's honorary consul in Monaco.

Refreshingly, he'd made no secret of his financial backing for Labour. But it was his openness about another donation - one which New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters denied all knowledge of - which would become the year's dominant political story and lead to Peters' downfall.

"I love all this stuff," he told the Herald's Carroll du Chateau in February. "Squabbles in school yards." It might have served as a warning to Peters.

Seven months later, Glenn flew back to to address Parliament's privileges committee - to clear his name, he said - after Peters' repeated denials about the $100,000 donation to meet legal costs.

His privileges committee appearance was a tour de force, one which pointed to the mix of ego, obduracy and focus needed to succeed in a cut-throat global business. Clutching a cross, he dispatched the politicians' grilling as crisply as a shipping note.

At a press conference at Auckland's Hilton Hotel, he challenged media "lies" that he was a womaniser and a "lush."

"I'm just an average Kiwi mate. I enjoy my yacht, I have a lot of people there. This so-called thing that I am always there with beautiful girls. Yeah, five of them are my daughters and one is my mother."

Glenn said Labour Party president Mike Williams was "wrestling with the truth. He is an unmitigated falsifier of veracity."

Like many high-achieving businessmen, Glenn feels no need to win friends and influence people.

"I didn't come all the way here to fantasise ... I'm just the worm that turned."

His loyalty to New Zealand was undoubtedly tested by the saga. "I think it's a sad place, New Zealand at the moment," he said after Peters was censured. "And I think we need more adult people in Parliament."

We may not like everything about Glenn but he deserves recognition for his philanthropy, and kudos for his candour despite huge political stakes.

And his commitment to transparency caused a seismic shift in the political landscape - condemning Peters and his party to parliamentary oblivion.

- Geoff Cumming

Jaquie Brown
Comedy Queen

If there was a bravery award for making comedy - the Heroic Order of the New Zealand Sitcom perhaps - Jaquie Brown should surely receive it. Twice.

As both the star and inspiration for perhaps the funniest - certainly the rudest - sitcom ever made here, the 33-year-old Aucklander not only asked us to laugh, but asked us to laugh at her. And, in an uncommon act of benevolence, we did, with both critics and audiences in rare agreement that her eponymous show was, indeed, laugh-out-loud funny.

It's little wonder. Across the six, astonishingly silly episodes of The Jaquie Brown Diaries we saw Brown dress as a giant, walking willy; bed singer Anika Moa after a drunken night on the town; and attack singer Jackie Clarke with cocktail food after an accusation involving a stolen invitation.

The show managed to be sweet, surreal and savagely funny, sometimes all at the same time.

Herald reviewer Michele Hewitson called it "cute, lightweight, a bit naughty ... and much smarter than those real current affairs shows".

Brown says she was surprised, but pleasantly so, that Diaries was so well received.

"Your worst fear is to put yourself out there and that people will slag you off. That's the risk you take when you're in the entertainment industry. We have such fragile egos," she says giggling.

"We had so many [positive comments] on the show's website and on Facebook, people were saying it made them feel confident in New Zealand comedy again. I take that as a huge, huge compliment."

The show was a major risk for Brown, not only because making sitcom is always a risk - lest we forget Melody Rules, Willy Nilly, Welcome to Paradise et al - but because it was so personal. She was not only the star of the show - one who'd never acted professionally - but the sitcom satirised, rather closely, her own experience as the "fun fairy" on TV3's Campbell Live. Jaquie Brown played Jaquie Brown, an ambitious but ultimately rather hopeless "light

relief" reporter on a nightly current affairs show; it was a stab, and a successful one, at the now well-established entertainment phenomena of a comic exploration of the nature of modern celebrity.

Written by first timers Gerard Johnstone (who also directed) and Jodie Molloy, Diaries was released on DVD this week and has also attracted interest offshore since screening here in July-August. Brown travelled to the annual TV distribution conference MIPCOM, held in Cannes in October, to flog the show and says there is interest (though no deals yet) from America and Australia.

Still better news is that a second series is being written, and New Zealand on Air last week agreed to fund a further eight episodes, two more than the first series.

Brown, who was a bag of nerves during the making of the first series, says she's feeling less performance anxiety this time around.

"I think Gerard is the one who is freaking out about doing it again because he's got to come up with all this new content. I'm definitely a lot more relaxed. Hopefully I won't be breaking out in shingles this time!

"But we are thinking 'oh shit, what next?' I think we're looking at series one like it was our training ground and we've developed better ideas, we know what we're doing now and we're ready to sink our teeth in and make it really, really awesome - and for it to stand up internationally, that's our dream."

The former music television host is excited about what it means for her career too. "It just opens more doors. I just feel happy," she says, and laughs again. "I just feel really ****ing happy. I feel that it's just a wonderful payoff to have an idea, put it out there and for it to actually work, rather than just sitting at home bashing your fists like an ape against the computer going 'what can I think of that will give me some kind of happiness...'

"[The happiness] wears off quickly though. That's ambition. You get to a certain level and you think 'great, I've achieved that and I thought by the time I got here I would be happy.' I'm over-ambitious sometimes ... I can never really rest. I'm constantly thinking of the next thing to do."

- Greg Dixon

Dean Kini
Sportsman against gambling

Mt Wellington Rugby League Club president Dean Kini knew it wouldn't be easy when the club decided in March to stop accepting money from pokie trusts.

The trusts dominate discretionary sports funding in New Zealand. Sport and Recreation NZ (Sparc) says the trusts gave $150 million to sports last year, matched only by local councils which spent $650 million on maintaining grounds and facilities, and Sparc itself which chipped in $100 million.

Despite a proud history, the Mt Wellington league club has been through hard times in the past few years, pulling out of the senior league three years ago because its senior players did not pay their fees. It was hardly in a position to snub its nose at its major funders.

Yet that is effectively what Kini did, on principle.

"A lot of the parents can't buy boots for their kids. They are saying they haven't got the money and that they can't get them to the games because they haven't got the money for petrol," he said.

"All those problems are associated with gambling and drinking. I didn't want to be a part of the problem."

At the time the club was believed to be the first sports club in the country to refuse pokie funding, and David Coom of the Problem Gambling Foundation is still not aware of any club that has followed Kini's example.

And nine months later, Kini concedes he's struggling. No corporate or charitable sponsor has filled the gap the pokies left.

"It's been too hard," he says.

Last weekend the club's 60th birthday drew some of its great names from the past: Tony Iro, James Leuluai, Clinton Toopi and current Warrior Logan Swann. But some were shocked by the state of the Thompson Park clubrooms.

"There were a few there who shed a few tears because it was that rundown they were embarrassed to come back," says Kini.

Lights on the club's main training ground were removed last year by the Auckland City Council after one light tower fell over. A council committee agreed this week to replace them at a cost of $120,000.

Maori public health agency Hapai Te Hauora helped out with the club's "family day" in March and is helping the club access the Ministry of Health's "healthy eating, healthy action" programme.

A charitable trust backed by the Headhunters which runs a free gym in Marua Rd, That Was Then This Is Now Charitable Trust, gave $500 for trophies. Trust spokesman Wayne Doyle says both he and his son have played for Mt Wellington in their time, and many youths in the club's current teams train at his gym.

"We do Internal Affairs-approved lotteries every year and we run two fight nights a year, and from that we support a couple of other things around the place," he says.

Kini has also made some money by hiring out the clubrooms for weddings and 21st birthdays.

But when the clubroom toilets blocked up recently, he was forced to compromise and took a grant from the Mt Wellington Licensing Trust, which is funded by pokies at the nearby Panmure Historic Hotel and Waipuna Lodge.

One of the club's teams has also taken a Lion Foundation grant for its players' jerseys.

"We are moving ahead, but it's not at full speed as yet," he says. "As long as the kids keep coming to the club, it just keeps me more enthused."

- Simon Collins

Patrick Kelly
Specialist Paediatrician

You'll most often find Patrick Kelly at the Starship Children's Hospital trying to put back together children who have suffered horrific abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to love them the most.

Sometimes the injuries are so severe neither Kelly nor his colleagues can fix them.

Kelly, a specialist paediatrician, has been working behind the scenes for years, doing what some say is the toughest of jobs.

When not at the hospital you might find him in a courtroom patiently explaining to jurors the type of brain injury a child has, or had, and the likeliest scenario of how it was inflicted, then withstanding aggressive cross-examination by defence lawyers.

Kelly was in court this year at the trial of Nia Glassie's killers. His calmly delivered, yet disturbing, evidence helped to pinpoint in the jurors' minds the timeframe in which the 3-year-old's fatal injury most probably occurred.

When not in hospital or in court, Kelly might be in Wellington lobbying politicians about what should be done to prevent child abuse, or writing up research on the "shaken baby syndrome" (non-accidental head injury) he sees so much of at Starship.

Colleagues say Kelly, who is also the father of four, is dedicated and driven.

He is the director of Te Puaruruhau, Auckland District Health Board's child abuse unit, which is based at the Starship, and he is used to getting up in the middle of the night to come into hospital to treat yet another battered child.

He spends an enormous amount of time on his work, colleagues say, and has won an equally enormous amount of respect among those he works with, including people from Government ministries such as Child Youth and Family and the police.

Dr Rosemary Marks, president of the Paediatric Society, works closely with Kelly at the Starship and says he is "a hell of a nice guy".

Despite the tough nature of the work "he's always pleasant, he's always polite, he doesn't get grumpy with people, he's always pretty even-tempered".

She thinks his strong Catholic faith sustains him through the hard times, though, like all who work with abused children, the waste of human potential saddens him.

Kelly, she says, has appeared in a huge number of court cases, sometimes months or even years after a child was brought to hospital.

"There are the Glassies and the Kahuis and so on who get into the public eye but there are many, many more who never hit the public radar for a whole range of reasons, and often it's because the child survives."

Ian Hassall, the country's first Commissioner for Children, has also worked with Kelly over the years and though he doesn't know him on a social level, he knows his dedication. "He does more than his fair share. He doesn't see it as nine to five, or just a limited job of doing what he's paid to do, he sees it as a mission, I think."

Simon Stables, a forensic pathologist, says he and Kelly work together on child homicides and "you certainly can't doubt the guy's dedication to [preventing] child abuse. He's overwhelmed with the amount of work he's got in that field."

Kelly never seeks the limelight but will front up, time and again, to media and select committees to get the prevention message across. His view is that every district health board should have the nucleus of a child protection team, so that everyone from plunket nurses to GPs can work alongside professionals from other fields, because most abused children will come to the attention of the health system at some stage.

In an interview with Kelly shortly after the Nia Glassie trial, he was asked how many abused children he had dealt with over the years.

"I'd just be guessing really," he said. It's a lot of children. His unit gets roughly 10 new patients a week.

Certainly, he said, you can be at risk of getting a skewed outlook on society but he, like most people in his field, work in other areas of child health also, at least part of the time, to help keep some balance.

"And also, you know, when you're working with the children or young people themselves, they are simply another child or young person who needs your help, so you do what you can for them."

- Catherine Masters

Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell
Olympic champions

The rigours of Olympic training are behind them, but Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell still can't help waking at dawn.

Since their retirement in October, the double-Olympic champions have continued to crave the structure and routine required throughout their 10-year international rowing career.

"People say, 'You must be enjoying the sleep-ins'," says Georgina. "But we're both setting our alarms for 5.30 or 6 o'clock and doing some sort of training - cycling or running.

"You can't go from training like we did to doing nothing."

The thought of waking up early when the hectic demands are behind you may seem an anathema to mere mortals. But for rowing's golden twins, it's only natural: ambition and drive are in their blood; they were never going to draw their boat out of the water and disappear down some quiet path.

So the past three months have been an eddy of speaking engagements, prizegivings and functions. And they couldn't be happier - if slightly bemused.

"We spent so much time in grotty rowing gear training, getting out there and meeting people has been cool," says Georgina. "For us, [rowing] has always been what we do and has never been boring but to think people are

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 27 Apr 2017 06:32:48 Processing Time: 898ms