A butcher who suffered a cardiac arrest during a national competition was brought back to life by medical staff - and then told his teammates to continue in the event.
After being revived with a defibrillator and CPR, a grateful Doug Kahi told his tearful team members to "carry on, do this for me" and continue competing - before being rushed to hospital.
Kahi was competing in the National Butchery Awards at Auckland's Vodafone Centre on Tuesday when he suffered a cardiac arrest and dropped to the floor in front of his teammates Riki Kerekere and Steve Clark.
Kerekere said he thought his friend had slipped, but by the time he got round to the other side of the table he realised something was wrong and called for a medic.
An on-site medical team rushed to help Kahi, who was not breathing, and used a defibrillator and CPR until an ambulance arrived.
"It was a shock. We were seeing our friend go through all this pain, like our brother lying on the ground like that. We were really emotional and distraught.
"He came back and started breathing again. We breathed a big sigh of relief," said Kerekere.
Out of respect, the other teams did not want to continue with the event, which involved transforming a hind quarter of beef and a whole lamb into creative cuts of meat over 90 minutes.
Kahi had other ideas as he started to come round and asked Kerekere to come over as he was being put inside the ambulance to tell him: "Don't stop, carry on and do this for me".
"I looked at my other mate, Steve, and said 'what do you want to do?' and he said 'let's do it for him' and told the organisers we should continue, he's safe now," Kerekere said.
After letting people know the event would continue, Kerekere got his son, Riki junior, a butcher at the event as a spectator, to put on an apron and step in for Kahi.
"He was amazing, we got it done just in time," said the father.
The team, Nga Kaitoki, which stands for The Axemen, ended up taking second position on the podium.
"We had a lot of people around us keeping us calm, including family. I think without them we wouldn't have got through it and if Doug hadn't said 'go and do it, do it for me' we probably wouldn't have been able to do it but he gave us that inspiration - 'okay, we are going to do this one for you, we will finish'.
"All of us hugged and cried. It was quite emotional," said Kerekere.
Kerekere and Clark are cousins and with Kahi they have formed a "family" since the three men started their apprenticeships about 25 years ago and worked together over the years as butchers.
"We do everything together. We go fishing together, holidaying together. Our kids and our families know each other well. Our wives hang out. We are not three guys who work together, we are like family, we are like brothers."
Kerekere said Kahi, who is in his mid 40s, is recovering well in Middlemore Hospital, saying he was so thankful for the first responders and the way they calmly helped his mate.
Kahi had a stent put in on Tuesday night and is up talking, smiling and having a bit of a laugh about what happened.
"We are all talking about how that was life changing for us and maybe it is time to do that thing where you have to change your ways in what you eat and how you exercise. It took that for us to realise that," said Kerekere, saying Kahi had never had heart issues.
He said the doctors told Kahi he was lucky the cardiac arrest happened when people were around who knew what to do and a defibrillator was on site because if it had happened at home or in the middle of nowhere he could have been in serious trouble.
Antoinette Bisset, general manager of Retail Meat New Zealand, which organised the event, was grateful to the quick thinking of her staff and those at the Vodafone Events Centre as well as the first aiders in the room. She said it could have been a much sadder day for Doug's friends and family.
"The resilience of Doug's fellow team members to rally themselves, finish the competition and place second will be a day none of us at Retail Meat New Zealand forget.
"We are sending our best wishes to Doug and his whānau as he recovers."