Rex Warbrick, a friendly and familiar face who has been busking on the main street of Levin for almost 20 years, is dying of cancer.
Warbrick has stage four lung cancer and has been told he has just months to live. Where he once slung his guitar over his broad shoulders, he now sits it between his legs on his mobility scooter.
The 62-year-old is doing his best to manage the cancer and said he would rather die at home than in hospital.
In the meantime, he is doing what he can to help spread as much love as he can. He said love is what saved him during the tough times, and he's been trying to share that love ever since.
Warbrick has had a tough life. He lost his mother and father at a young age. His father was a "hard man" and a drinker, a cycle Warbrick was keen to break.
"I was a very sensitive child and carried a lot of hurt," he said.
"My set of values were strong from a young age. I drank casually as young people do, but I never let it become a problem."
At the age of 19, Warbrick experienced some "confusing" events, leaving him struggling with sleep.
By the time he was 20 years old he suffered a mental health breakdown, an event that changed the course of his whole life.
"I've lived with emotional pain all my life," he said.
He would spend the next 20 years in and out of mental institutions, having being diagnosed with severe paranoid schizophrenia.
Labels like that can be heavy to carry around and are easy to lick and stick. For Warbrick, the decades he spent in mental health units like Lake Alice and Manaroa were hell, and felt more like containment than rehabilitation.
Heavily medicated, he hardly remembers his time in those institutions. He now feels like they were lost years. All he remembers is feeling trapped, both mentally and physically, and feeling worthless.
"I was locked in my head," he said.
"I was unwell. I was exhausted. My whole mind was blank ... I had to get my life together to become a better person."
He spent years trying to piece his life together and make sense of what had happened.
"I went through so many programmes to try and de-institutionalise," he said.
Strong-boned and standing 1.8m high, his handsome frame and long hair could also be misread as intimidating, but nothing was further from the truth.
Inside, he was a big softie. The tough times had made him hard-hearted, but he said it was about reconnecting with the side of himself he was born with - his gentle side.
In explaining the turnaround in his life, he said it was simple. He had found love. It was the love he received from his partner of the last 20 years, Patricia Beamsley, that he credits with changing his life.
"Once upon a time I was an angry man ... she took away my pain and anger," he said.
"Through loving her I was able to let go of my pain, anger and resentment ... her love has been better than any treatment.
"Right from the start I said 'I love ya', and she loved me unconditionally. I believed in her and she set me free in so many ways."
"When I was angry, she would say 'just forgive them'. She clothed me, fed me and never judged me. She took on an unwell man and stuck by me.
"When love comes through the door, it's Pat that comes through the door. I'm just so proud to do the housework, to do the dishes, although I can't stand up for too long now.
"I'll never forget our first meal - spaghetti bolognaise."
The couple moved to Levin 17 years ago to start a new life and Warbrick said he loves the town and the people in it.
He took to busking as a means of survival and a way of contributing, as his life-long struggle with mental health prevented him from getting a job.
He could be found most days singing his own brand of light, bluesy music and lyrics straight from his heart, an occupation that Warbrick took seriously, imparting joy and encouragement at every opportunity.
A day busking for him was as much about interacting with passers-by as it was about playing music. Often he would look up and share a hongi or a handshake, always with a "kia ora".
"Busking is a means of communication. I always try and lift people up ... 'you're looking good today brother' or 'kia kaha'.
"I'm thankful for every day and every dollar," he said.
The music goes hand-in-hand with his own journey, and his guitar is a vehicle to help him get there. He said it helps to bring out the best in him, and the music that is in his heart.
"Every day I go out I face my fears," he said.
His chosen path in music to play was the blues.
"It goes with the mood of the town, too," he said.
Warbrick said there was the odd occasion that he had been abused while busking. He'd been spat at. He'd had been called a loser.
But those type of incidents were few and he ignored the taunts. He shrugged them off with the knowledge that those people didn't understand him or his journey, and had no understanding of mental illness.
"I treat everyone equally. Do you understand? I have love and respect for all people. All people."
"If you look into love you find freedom, in your life and in your heart.
"Just tell the whānau how much I love them," he said.