It was a special Friday morning for a small Rotorua business, with a surprise visit from members of the Māori All Blacks to help kick off their morning at work.
Yesterday, team members from the Māori All Blacks visited The Specialist Limited at the Redwoods Treewalk, where their work for the day would be based.
The Specialist team tackle all aspects of arboriculture such as garden maintenance, pruning large trees and taking down dangerous trees.
The business had been one of 100 successful applicants in the Borrow the All Blacks campaign.
This year ASB had donated its largest sponsorship asset, the All Blacks, Black Ferns and Māori All Blacks, to promote small- and medium-sized New Zealand businesses in an effort to spotlight SMEs and stimulate New Zealand's economy.
The bank created 100 advertising packages featuring the players from all three national teams to promote 100 SMEs across New Zealand.
It was hoped the New Zealand Rugby sponsorship donation would help SMEs get ahead in their business recovery following Covid-19.
Through the Borrow the All Blacks campaign, each business received a personalised video advertisement.
In each of the personalised videos, there are three players from one of the national teams.
The advertisements will put these SMEs in front of millions of New Zealanders through digital media, out-of-home billboards and social media.
During the visit, the Māori All Blacks and The Specialist team enjoyed morning tea together and there was the presentation of a framed campaign ad from their video.
Māori All Blacks' Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi said it was great to surprise The Specialist team.
He said he knew some staff through playing touch and rugby, so it was great to catch up.
The team had been staying in Rotorua all week before their game against Moana Pasifika in Hamilton today and, originally from Rotorua, Tahuriorangi said it was always great being back home, surrounded by whānau and friends.
"We know some of the players in the other team and are looking forward to playing them. We are looking forward to playing our friends and it should be a great occasion.
"When you don the Māori All Blacks jersey it's special."
The Specialist co-owner Thomas Rika said it was a great surprise and special experience, and they were humbled to have some of the Māori All Blacks visiting.
The young men in their business had not known about the visit until that morning, he said.
He said work prospects at one point were uncertain due to Covid-19 this year.
"Anything we can do to drum up more business is great for us. We employ six young local men and we want to keep their jobs.
"We are lucky to be busy at present."
Rika said The Specialist team were thankful to get exposure through the advertising package and grateful to ASB and the Māori All Blacks for creating that exposure for their business.
"We are pretty humbled by that."
ASB commercial account manager Rotorua Mele Vi said with all that's gone on through the year it was special to be involved in such a venture.
ASB had been at the forefront of taking calls from businesses through the hard times associated with Covid-19.
Vi said it had been neat to see the campaign launched in July this year, and getting to see one of the 100 chosen applicants with Māori All Blacks members was awesome.
The Māori All Blacks are playing Moana Pasifika today at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, kicking off at 7.05pm.