What do you see when you look at Bron "Horse" Hames?
For most people, they see a fierce, uncompromising legend of Northland women's rugby, who has done more for the game in this region than almost anyone.
For some, they see a passionate Paparoa local, who sits on a small block of land alongside her partner, Beryl, Beryl's daughter and two grandchildren.
For a select few, they see a person who, after surviving a horrific workplace accident, battled anxiety and depression at a time in her life where she thought self-harm and suicide was her only way out.
Now, at 47 years of age, Hames stands as the oldest player in New Zealand's domestic women's rugby competition, the Farah Palmer Cup. Born in 1972, Hames is one of only five players in the entire 2019 competition to be born in the 1970s.
More commonly known as Horse, the proud Northlander will come off the bench as reserve prop/hooker for the Northland Kauri in Saturday's game against Otago at the Trigg Sports Arena at 2pm.
But it's her journey to this moment in time which reinforces her reputation as one of the many heroes of Northland women's rugby, and the ideal example for new players coming through the ranks.
Living with two older brothers and a sister on a sheep and beef farm in Paparoa, Hames grew up tough. Hames would leave Otamatea High School heading home to the farm to help her father who had a bone condition. She was just 14 years old.
She then moved into what she referred to as "the big smoke of Whangārei" to work in a butchery in the early 1990s. It was then Hames would start her rugby career with Kamo for a couple of seasons before shifting to City and playing for Northland for about six years.
After a neck injury in the early 2000s, Hames had to make the hard decision to give up rugby and she admits watching women's rugby was painful after turning her back on the sport.
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But this pain would just be the start. An explosion at a different workplace in 2006 saw Hames shot through a manhole-sized area which by her own words, "folded her like a lawnchair".
After a series of events following the accident, Hames was dismissed from her job and, in tandem with the physical damages including a concussion and sever lower back injuries, the incident had an enormous effect on her physical and mental state.
"It was almost like there was a glitch in the matrix," Hames said.
"Sometimes, I'd stop and not know how to walk, I'd lost the sense of smell and taste, the ability to do up my shoelaces. For four years I'd just lost my mind."
Hames developed serious anxiety and depression from then on which seriously affected her relationships with other people and her body, losing 50 kilograms in 18 months. By her own admission, Hames rarely left the house in about three years apart from quick trips to the beach or town, which would often end in a panic attack.
"I would sit and punch this wooden pole in the house out of sheer frustration, I couldn't smell, I couldn't taste, I couldn't think."
Things were so dire that at one stage Hames completely removed the entirety of the two-year-old carpet from her home and burned it, just so she didn't have to focus on her mental health which at some points turned suicidal.
"You get to a point where you think, 'I'm just such a headache for everyone and it'd be so much easier for them if I end it, if I end my life'," she said.
However, she was thrown a lifeline when a friend, George Te Hira, quit his job in Auckland and moved in with Hames. This would end up being the start of a long and still-in-progress recovery.
It was a slow process, but Hames steadily gained back confidence in herself and others. Choosing not to go through serious lower back surgery, Hames holed up in the gym, determined to get stronger and fitter.
Fast forward to last year and women's club rugby is slowing coming back after years of dormancy. After being invited along to a Hora Hora club training session with the likes of Rana Paraha and Freda Wiki (both past Northland players), Hames found nothing had changed.
"It was all these players that I'd played with before and they just gave me a big hug and said, 'Where've you been Horse?'," Hames said.
"I just felt that instant whānau, like these are the people that know me, have known me before the accident and are treating me how they've always treated me, not like this sick person."
From that point on, rugby became her lifeline, giving her a purpose.
"When I stepped onto the field, every worry and problem just disappeared and I just had a job to do. I had these people around me who cared about me and it was just the most amazing feeling I'd ever felt.
"I just felt free, I feel free on the field."
It wasn't until a Te Tai Tokerau women's sevens tour to Samoa in February this year that Hames believed she could represent Northland again. It was announced that Northland would have its very first FPC team and, following a successful club season with the Kamo Hawks this year, Hames was given another chance to pull on the Cambridge Blue.
"I feel very, very honoured to be part of the first Northland FPC side. It's a real dream come true."
Taking the field for 20 minutes against Hawke's Bay last weekend, Hames, known for her strength and intensity for the game, was honest about how the tears fell heavy at the jersey presentation before the game.
Some days are still a struggle for Hames. Some are better than others but she says there are still times when she feels like a burden on her family and friends.
But with a passion to become a personal trainer in the head injury field, Hames hopes she can help create a pathway for young Northland female rugby players to come through, separate from the politics.
Hames credited Northland Rugby Union women's rugby manager, Scott Collins, who she felt had been immense in promoting the game in the region.
While the battle against Otago is just hours away, Hames knows there are many more battles to come .
"It's about finding something that you have a little bit of joy in, whether that's sports or going fishing or tinkering with the car, and try and do it once a week and be kind to yourself."
For people concerned about how to help those who may be struggling, Hames had one word: patience.
"You need to know that it's a process and reassure them that what they are going through is OK and things will get better."
WHERE TO GET HELP: If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202