Martin O'Halloran is a man with a dream ... a dream to see the small, rural communities of the South Hokianga return to their former glory through the revival of local club rugby.
Born and raised in the Hokianga, the 51-year-old Taheke resident remembers fondly the days of his youth spent playing the game against teams from Opononi, Whirinaki, Rawene and more.
As of 1994, O'Halloran claims as many as 10 senior rugby clubs existed in South Hokianga which produced rugby union and league stars such as Norm Maxwell, James Fisher-Harris and Corey Harawira-Naera
However, when professionalism entered the game through Super Rugby in 1996, O'Halloran saw that pool of 10 reduce to one, the South Hokianga Natives, before that club too met its demise about three years ago.
Nevertheless, O'Halloran believes all hope is not lost and in fact, the possibility of rugby's return to South Hokianga is gaining momentum thanks in large part to a multi-code age group team - Te Puna O Hokianga.
Set to compete in today's Old Boys' Marist sevens tournament at Pohe Island, this under-14 boys' team largely from the Hokianga region saw huge success in 2019.
Coached by O'Halloran, the team took out the New Zealand junior club rugby festival in Taupō in September, the first team in the tournament's 10-year history to win in their first year of attending.
Just a week later, the team switched to rugby league where they finished third in a NZ Māori league competition behind Hawke's Bay and Auckland, complimenting their Northland Rugby League competition title in the same year.
With a dozen of the 25-player team selected for regional, national and international representative programmes, O'Halloran saw the team as the perfect platform to rebuild South Hokianga rugby.
"We always knew they were talented, a lot of them come from big rugby families, they've got Māori All Blacks in their blood," O'Halloran said.
"[South Hokianga] is a perfect breeding ground for the young guys coming through."
O'Halloran, who started playing rugby at age 4 under the guidance of his father, who was once Kaikohe Rugby Club president, said the game had changed drastically in the area since he was a child.
"I just loved it that much ... everyone had a team to play for at every grade, no one missed out," he said.
"It was more than a sport, it was more of a religion if anything.
"That's changed over years and now there are no teams for them because there are not enough coaches."
With club volunteers in decline, O'Halloran outlined just how hard it was to attract people to give up their time to manage a team.
"When you're a coach, you've got to be everything, you can't just be the coach, you've got to be the van driver, the cook, the manager and wash the jerseys at the end of the day.
"It's just too much for so many people that would be doing it if they didn't have do that other stuff."
Before living in Taheke for the last 16 years, O'Halloran found himself playing code in Auckland, an experience which made him realise how special rugby was in the Hokianga.
"[Playing in Auckland] was a lot worse, it was really lonely. We never had the same sort of community involvement," he said.
"Everyone just seemed to turn up and go their separate ways, you'd have your speeches and it was all over."
These experiences led to O'Halloran developing what he called, his 10-year plan. Still in its early stages, O'Halloran plans to sell a rental property so he can construct a base for South Hokianga rugby, complete with fields and clubrooms.
From there, O'Halloran said he would look to employ young players at his company, Seaweed Solutions, which would encourage local talent to stay and develop in the region.
Currently training out of the Kaikohe Rugby Club, O'Halloran is determined to give the kids the opportunity to play as long as they can in South Hokianga before sharing their talent with the world.
"We are going to lose a few but as long as we can set up that facility where it's getting these kids to that stage, even if they do go, at least there's a pathway.
"It's just so that the kids and his mates have somewhere to go play footy and the plan of course is to keep them here as long as we can."