And the winner is . . .

When it came to the winners at last Friday and Saturday night's Westpac Awards in Tauranga and Rotorua, there were a couple of cool ones and a few who didn't get the nod or even a nomination.

I don't do corporate gigs, the words networking and name tags in the same sentence freaks me. Almost as much as when people say the words "to be honest" - so everything else is rubbish?

But not so last Friday night when one came my way from my bro Banker Scott.


My daughter had just launched Hayley-Rose, her new online clothing label and given the crème of Tauranga were locked and loaded into the star-studded night at the awards, we went along for a flash feed and an even flasher function.

For me the winner was Westpac for sure, they put on a great gig, however the unsung, unawarded hero was the conductor behind this superbly orchestrated awards evening Ani (Anne) Pankhurst.

Once again the gorgeously gracious Ani brought five-star Hollywood to Ten Dollar Tauranga. (Moody's credit ratings recently upgraded us from $2 now we have some soul about to be surgically implanted into our CBD)

To be honest I don't get out much after the sun sets over the Kaimai but the last two nights in as many years, both at ASB Stadium and both soirees sprinkled with the Ani Pankhurst 5 star fairy dust, have been brilliant. So I accept this award on your behalf Ani.

What could be possibly done better by the organising committee is to take note of how the Rotorua Westpac Awards roll with the community categories and Youth Awards, as well as their winners who reflected the future face of Rotorua (Canopy Tours) - and not the hired help here in Tauranga.

There can be no argument as far as who the standout Business person of the Year award went to in both cities.

I have known Cookie (Ray Cook) the winner and wife Barb, longer than the awards themselves, and as far back as when he opened the Rotorua Novotel - with the Crown Prince of Thailand in attendance, he has been a proven connoisseur of what five star anything - especially tourism - is all about.

The same can be said about the recipient of the same award here in Tauranga Moana.

There is a wonderful backyard yarn told of a young Greerton boy who used to hide his school shoes up in the tree outside the gate so he could play bullrush and boxing with all the other shoeless kids, and he has never lost his connection with his community.

I won't mention his full name as he may not keep sponsoring the homeless I work with but well done Tame, you are a testament to what can be achieved when those who have done well in this town put their hands in their own pockets for those who are struggling.
Shame he was called him Tim, not Tom, given he is one of the giving gurus in our town who go about their business in a quiet and humble way, with and without their shoes on, not looking for anything other than seeing the town they grew up in do well.

The other winner on the night was Tiki Taane. He wasn't up for an award but should have been.

The Tourism BOP promotional clip he penned and sang was very Lo-cool and a look into the toanga in our own backyard. It was a show-stopper and drew the loudest applause for the night, besides Jackie Clarke's divine diva impersonation of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

She gave it her all and then some, prancing around the stage like a cougar on heat, eating up the audience and leaving nothing but empty plates for the chilled out and courteous staff to take away.

Not that there was much left on my plate even though I am only a light eater. Yeah right - whatever, as soon as it's light I start eating, and my daughter's kai got forked right so I wouldn't have to ask for seconds.

My dream is for one day to have my daughter walk up on stage - one sprinkled with the Ani Pankhurst five star fairy dust, and deliver an acceptance speech as clever and funny as her mum's mate Jacqui Clarke, who stole the show as MC.

By then Haley-Rose will be a household name and dad can stay home with his mokopuna and tell them yarns about Tiki Taane and Barefoot Tame. About Cookie and five star Vegas and how the Divine Diva Jackie Clarke used the words glamour, glitz and guts all in the same sentence, and stole the show at the Westpac Awards.

Tommy Kapai is a best-selling author and writer.