If you had the opportunity to meet anyone alive on the planet today, who would that be?

I asked my mates at work this question and I got an interesting eclectic bunch of nominees from Nick Cave, Lydia Ko, Aunty Rose, who none of us knew, President Putin, the Dalai Lama, Jacinda Ardern and David Attenborough.

As the discussion deepened, many were keen to meet Andrew Judd to talk about the Māori wards debate, and this will happen when he comes up in the near future to talk to Tauranga Moana about why he walked away from politics.

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Winston also got voted in as a must meet politician, as did the three local Western Bay councillors who voted against Māori wards, I guess because no one in this office had ever met them, and that says a lot when it comes to knowing the most-needy Māori in your community.

Not so their mayor Garry Webber, who none of us needed to meet as he drops in almost weekly to show what colours his community caring bread is buttered on.

For me, my "must meet" changes like a Donald Trump truth tweet. Last month during Anzac remembrances, it would have been Dame Vera Lynn, the singer known as the forces' sweetheart for entertaining troops during World War II to boost morale.

Dame Vera sang to my dad when he was a young scared 17-year-old boy on the other side of the world fighting a war he didn't want to be a part of.

When I think of my father, I think of him in his melancholic moods, usually with a couple of stiff gins on board, drifting back to those dark days and promising his brothers in arms they will meet again as Vera promised in her classic wartime hit We'll Meet Again.

To be able to meet this amazing 101-year-old who is releasing a new album on the back of a lifetime achievement award would be way cool and an opportunity to say thank you from all the kids who lost a dad to war, with wounds on the inside that never healed.

Last Saturday, I would have liked to meet one of the Maniapoto brothers who locked the scrum for Whakawerawera and the Bay, back in the day when I was a kid watching these gentle giants thunder around the footy paddock like characters cast for a Weta Workshop animated movie.

To have Jim there on the sideline at Matakana Island with his red and black whānau to witness history being created by holding a Baywide premier club rugby match for the first time ever would have been magic, like Disney itself.


There is something about club rugby that transcends every handbrake of hatred, racism and patch-protecting greed, especially between two Māori teams sprinkled with Caucasian cuzzies.

Club rugby is a sporting phenomenon that breaks every barrier and an event that councillors who want to vote against Māori wards should show up to see for themselves, especially when it is happening in their own backyard.

There is no hidden agenda, nor a political potae or a deal been done. Just raw rugby.

In fact, that Saturday, the only currency of success besides the owner of the barge was whanaungatanga shown by the people of Matakana, who live a peaceful easy lifestyle many of us can only dream about, like my dad did when he wanted to come home from war.

It's just mate against mate who become better mates after the final whistle is blown.

The first of the three games between Te Puna and hosts Matakana Island was the real kicker.

With an average age of a 101, the same as Vera Lynn, and 100kg, the same as the side of pork that went into the hangi to feed the masses, this was a gladiatorial sporting spectacle to be talked about for generations to come.

Sure, the flash Harrys in the main game were hotter than the hangi stones that cooked the massive kai, but when it comes to grassroots rugby, the big kahunas who battled it out like a couple of Bismarcks playing force back on a Matakana Island paddock were the winners on the day for me.

And big Jim Maniapoto would have loved watching 52-year-old Borrowdale, who must be cut from the same cloth as Dame Vera Lynn, score the winning try under the posts for the island.

The thunderous applause would have woken even the heaviest of sleepers at the nearby urupa.

We can't always meet those we want to in this life, nor can we all score the winning try to take the trophy for another year.

However, we can all make the effort to show up on the sideline of life and cheer on our local team, support those who support those in need, and remember the good buggers who went out of their way to make a magical day on Matakana Island happen.

We'll meet again.

broblack@xtra.co.nz Tommy Wilson is a local writer and best selling author.