Steve Braunias profiles John Yelash – legendary without ever being famous, an ex-con, ex-author, ex-actor, waiting to exit.

Someone was singing opera at an incredible volume in a shack at the back of a jungle of vines and apple trees in Glendene, that doleful, paint-peeling suburb up on a ridge in west Auckland. I approached with caution. Eccentric behaviour can be exhausting, a performance I almost never want to witness, much preferring those of mild temperament and stable conduct. But I couldn't resist the chance to visit and meet a legendary figure in New Zealand life, a ratbag among the

John Yelash, 84