The Country host Jamie Mackay has many, many talents but one of his finest is his ability to spot new talent.

There have been many examples over the years, but two of his best have been recent All Black rookie Damian McKenzie and, prior to that, comedian and entertainer Leigh Hart.

Without Mackay's unique eye for picking out the best of the bunch and gently guiding them towards realising their unbridled potential, the world may have been deprived of a few tries and few laughs.

Thankfully, Jamie's talent radar is always scanning the entertainment landscape, as he strives to unearth new stars to shine a light on our otherwise bleak existence. And who better to do this than a man who is, in his own way, someone I would call a chilled out entertainer himself.


From humble beginnings in the sleepy farming hamlet of Riversdale, where he was inducted as the lone member of his mate's dubiously titled 'Rough n' Tumble Boys Club', to the bright lights of Gore and finally onto the bustling metropolis of Dunedin, Mackay has always scoured the footy fields and dance halls of the lower South Island on the off-chance he may witness a future Leon McDonald or Annie Crummer.

Indeed, many owe their careers to his vision. It's no coincidence I chose this week, when another of New Zealand's top talent scouts, Sir Gordon Tietjens, decided to hang up his coaching boots, to extol the virtues of another great Kiwi talent merchant.

In the case of McKenzie, there a haunting parallels to the story of another twinkle-toed, blonde-haired outside back that's part of New Zealand rugby folklore.

When the father of Sir John Kirwan told the story on the hit early 90's documentary series, 'Mud and Glory', of an anonymous side-line parent proclaiming a young JK would "be an All Black one day", it sent a collective chill down the nation's spine.

Years later it would be Mackay that uttered those exact words when witnessing the deeds of the adolescent McKenzie on the frozen fields of deepest, darkest Southland.

A few years later, while casually watching television after putting in another solid day's honest graft and vigorously chugging down a few ales, Mackay noticed a new face on the cult programme, Sports Café.

With an atom-splitting explosion of genius and foresight, reserved for those with only the sharpest intellect, the entrepreneurial Mackay hurriedly made arrangements to book the fledgling Hart for a corporate speaking role, lest he be beaten to the punch, as unlikely as that may have been.

All of this brilliance deserves a tribute, but how does one honour a man whose humility defines him? I've been grappling with this for a while when inspiration finally reared its head earlier this week.

An artist by the name of Mark Rayner from Whanganui hit the headlines when his full frontal nude of Labour Leader Andrew Little began titillating the nation. Further research revealed the artist had created a similar depiction of Prime Minister John Key.

Perfect, I thought; the best gift one man can give to another - a full frontal nude of our PM in all his glory! Alas, the amorous artwork had already been snapped up by a fellow Key acolyte on Trade Me for the thick end of a grand.

The disappointment was palpable, until further inspiration struck; why not commission the artist to create a full frontal nude of Mackay himself?!

He could be striking a David Brent-esque pose, surrounded by his favourite items like his Southland Stags jersey and lycra bike shorts, maybe even holding a rugby ball with the original Rough n' Tumble Boys Club membership certificate framed in the background... an ode to sport and entertainment, the world of which is now richer thanks to the selfless acts of one of the great New Zealanders.

Now that's talent.