It all began in 2013; laying in my usual position on the couch, having resumed my annual seasonal role as sports 'selector', analyzer and supporter.
At some point that year, I decided I was better than that and wanted to give back to the sport I loved: rugby.
I grew up wanting to be an All Black, knowing Northland was the path I needed to go to get there. I didn't make either.
So, the next day, I walked into Northland rugby headquarters and offered my voluntary help wherever it was needed. The following day I got a call asking if I would like to be Tane. I jumped up and down with excitement and said a resounding 'yes!'
I went in that day to get Tane, took him home and was proud as punch to be the mascot personal. That night I sat down with a plan in mind of what I wanted to achieve in the role. The plan involved how, where and what I needed to do. I walked the streets for weeks looking for sponsors, explaining who I was and what I wanted to achieve. I soon had 25 sponsors and Allkars provided a car, which I have now had for five years.
I have travelled New Zealand from top to bottom numerous times, made new friends and seen and done things I couldn't have dreamed of, both on and off the field.
I always promote my sponsors where possible. I have a Facebook page also. My partner travels with me and helps with everything. I visit kids in hospitals, do Xmas parades and community events where I can. This was always my dream to get Tane out in the community and promote Northland on away-games. My sponsors have helped me achieve this.
I believe Tane is sacred and holds great Maori mana to Northland. He looks over us.
I am his caregiver till my time is up, the next person will hopefully carry this on.
On August 16, 2018, I will mascot my 50th game against North Harbour in Albany.
I hope to make 100. I have made scrap books every year to keep memories and to show grandchildren in the future.
One of my dreams is to see all mascots travel on their away games. Tane is the only mascot that does! Maybe Air NZ could give us a seat to help the mascots out.
I would like to thank my family, friends, sponsors and Northland rugby for supporting and letting me live my dream.
I'm passionate about Tane's legacy and am proud to be part of it.
Derek Browning – AKA Tane the Taniwha