After a rugged childhood, Stan Walker has come a long way, but accepting fame will always be a work in progress.
These days Walker lives a quiet life in Whanganui, where he's content with being domesticated and strategically picking downtimes to visit the supermarket.
"We're settling down," he says of the few months he's lived in Whanganuu. He returned to New Zealand four years ago after being Australia-based and made the move to Whanganui when his partner secured a job there.
"My partner is working for her iwi down there as a communications manager and I travel for work so it doesn't matter where we live as long as she's happy."
"Different", is how he jokingly describes Whanganui. "It's definitely not Tauranga Moana," referencing his hometown, growing up at Tamapahore Marae and attending Arataki School before crossing the ditch.
Being recognised no matter where he resides is "always overwhelming", and he says he rarely leaves the house when he isn't working.
"I'm quite boring, actually.
"My whole life is surrounded by people so when I'm at home, I literally stay home, clean the house, do the dishes.
"I just do all the homely stuff. Make sure that my Mrs is all good and look after her and boy [her son]. It's beautiful having my own little family and we love it."
The real Stan Walker is as humble as he is honest.
He's just released his memoir, Impossible: My Story, written with Margie Thomson, and is doing a nationwide tour of the country, coming to Tauranga on December 1.
His book is the retelling of his life up until this point, from an abusive childhood to winning Australian Idol to his diagnosis of stomach cancer in 2017. He survived it, after having his stomach removed.
Why has he decided to do a tell-all now? It was "just time", he says, having turned 30 last month. "It's like a coming of age," he adds, mentioning that he was the first to call it a night at his birthday bash at 11pm.
While the book talks about the abuse he suffered as a child, it's not the first time Walker has voiced it, having previously brought the subject up on other speaking circuits. This time his stories are harrowingly more detailed and unfiltered.
He's been open about how his father physically abused him, his brothers and mother, how he was sexually abused by a relative over the course of nine months, and that he previously turned to drugs and alcohol to cope.
It's also something his whānau have worked through together, thanks to becoming Christian.
God he says, "is the only answer to the problems in our family".
"I think I was 5 or 6 when my mum became a Christian and then my dad a year later. He just knew that my mum was done with everything and he started going to church just to get my mum back, and then God changed his whole life and he didn't expect that."
For Walker, faith allowed him to love himself, as well as forgive.
His parents, who live in Melbourne with his wider whānau, are still together and "staunch as".
"My whole family, we're tight."
His mother April Walker works as his promoter and says: "My husband and I support Stan in everything he does."
He's been comfortable talking about life's intimacies since he was 18, saying his motivation has always been to help others.
"My hope is that it helps anybody that's gone through similar things, and to give people their power back. Be done with shame. Encourage people that they can be anyone and anything they want to be."
In an exclusive extract from his memoir published by the NZ Herald, the Idol season seven winner talks about how his life took a dramatically different direction at that turning point - both for good and bad.
"Over those months, my life changed completely. Gone — wiped out completely — was the kid working in the menswear shop. I was off on my new path. Idol threw me in the deep end of the music industry, very like when my dad chucked me in the deep end of the swimming pool when I was 4. Sink or swim both times. Lucky I was tough because it ain't no place for the faint-hearted."
He goes on to write: "Winning something like Idol puts you straight at the top, it definitely does, but the fall can be just as fast, and it goes all the way to the bottom. Can you imagine that? One minute, people saying you're a star; the next, you're nobody again. I was determined that wouldn't happen to me."
Walker also previously spoke to Newstalk ZB's Jack Tame about his struggles with identity, revealing he was told to be "less Māori" in Australia.
So far, feedback on his memoir has been "really positive".
"I was nervous because doing this book I knew that I would have to say everything. I just get those fears that people will try and turn it around and use my story against me, but I just thought: 'Nup, I don't really care'."
These days, he takes the opinions of others in his stride.
Most people who stop him in the street are kind and they'll ask for a photo or excitedly blurt: "What are you doing here?" Others can be unpredictable.
"I have to pick and choose times [to go out] because I can't control how people feel or what they want to do," he says. "For me, it's like the millionth time meeting someone, but for them, it's the first time seeing me."
Although it's hard to imagine the likeable Walker being given grief, he says "I've had my fair share", conceding that some New Zealanders are afflicted with tall poppy syndrome.
"I think it's just people can't handle who I am and they make it their job to want to try and tell me who I am, but that's their own insecurities.
"Some people I let get away with things and others, no."
As to what the future holds for Walker, he will always do music but says it's not "my be all and end all".
"I want to do so much more than that because I can now.
"I'm really proud of how far I've come, how far my whānau have come - they're my backbone and my support - and just looking back, it's awesome."
Impossible: My Story, (HarperCollins, $40) is available now.
Stan Walker will visit Tauranga's Holy Trinity Church on December 1, 6.30pm, as part of his New Zealand tour to promote his book and talk about his life. Hosted by Mike King, Walker will sing some of his hit songs and personal favourites in between kōrero. For tickets visit www.ticketspace.nz
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
My purpose. My purpose is bigger than me being tired. To serve the people and, now, just looking after my own little family, they're my purpose, that's why I get up.
What's your favourite quote?
A whakataukī (Māori proverb): To nurture the indescribable light in a person. "I love that, because that's my hope of what I can do for people."
What are three words you'd use to describe yourself?
"Passionate, loving, loyal."
If we're sitting here a year from now, what did you achieve?
"People's lives will be changed from my story."
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