Sevens rugby coach Sir Gordon Tietjens might be a hard taskmaster on the pitch, but he's got a soft spot for animals.
He recently agreed to become the patron for Tauranga's Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (ARRC) Wildlife Trust.
Next Saturday night, Sir Gordon is fronting as the guest speaker at an ARRC charity auction and picnic on the beach, where money raised will go towards the trust's operational costs and education.
Guests will hear Sir Gordon's extraordinary story with the All Black Sevens, how they are preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games plus get the chance to grill him during a question and answer session.
"We are absolutely delighted to have Tietj on board as our patron, it is really wonderful and there are many opportunities that can unfold for the future," says ARRC Wildlife Trust founding trustee and director Liza Schneider.
The Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre has saved the lives of thousands of wild animals since it was formed in 2003 and there are many different situations where wildlife can become injured, including birds that fly into windows or get caught in fishermen's nets.
One situation that ARRC sees regularly are injured Little Blue Penguins who have been attacked by dogs on Tauranga beaches.
"Sometimes they need to have their wounds stitched and go into intensive care and sometimes we can't save them and they need to be humanely euthanised," says Liza.
"We have got a lovely population of Little Blue Penguins and we need to look after them as numbers in other areas of New Zealand are dwindling," she says.
Food for the event will be a Moroccan-inspired picnic prepared by celebrity chef Peter Blakeway. Guests will be entertained by The Grey Lynn Ukuladies and six-piece jazz band, Dee de Luca.
Charity auction prizes include two nights at Hilton Taupo and lunch at Huka Lodge.
MC for the night is Frank Vosper and a fashion show will feature clothes from Bettie Monroe and Mane Menswear.
The trust cares for hundreds of injured and orphaned native and non-native species every year and fundraising is essential to its costs.
the fine print
ARRC Wildlife Trust Fundraiser
Pacific Shores ¦When: March 19, 4.30-10pm
$48 each, or table of eight $385. Tickets for the fundraising charity auction are available from Bettie Monroe, 102 Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui; Tranquillo Beauty Clinic, 76 Grey St, Tauranga; and Holistic Vets, 212 Fraser St, Tauranga.