FOR small-town Southland shearer Ash Murray, entering New Zealand Rugby’s Back Black supporters’ competition was “just a bit of fun”.
He never expected to win the trip of a lifetime.
Mid-shear at an Otahuti shearing shed, the grand prize winner was ambushed by a surprise party last week.
“To be honest it was just crazy, it was all a bit overwhelming and something I didn’t expect. We always thought what if, but not to count our eggs before they hatched, you know. It was an awesome feeling,” Mr Murray said.
The All Blacks Tours All Finals Package included flights, accommodation, and two tickets to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
After the campaign launched in July, Mr Murray entered with a rendition of Ngati Toa’s Ka Mate haka.
“It was a song I was always confident playing, I’d been playing it since primary school.”
While he had always had a passion for music, it was something he mostly kept to himself , he said. “A lot of my close mates, I’ll play in front of them over a few beers, but it’s not something I’d typically do so it was quite nerve-wracking.”
As a young Maori living in Ohai, it was difficult to learn about his culture, he said. “We all had the passion and that hunger to learn but there wasn’t easy access.”
At Ohai school, everything changed when he met a mentor named Moko.
“He came and helped us compose music like that, we’d pick out easy hakas, something that we all knew as kids and just put music to it.”
New Zealand Rugby representatives, and Six60 bass guitarist Chris Mac, who took a shine to the song, visited Mr Murray’s workplace to share the news.
“Chris is a gentleman, he’s bloody awesome, we had a chat to him and he stuck around for a few beers.”
While he had plenty of friends in line for the second ticket, “you can’t not take the wife”, he said.
“It’s a massive package I would probably never be able to afford, or dream of affording, so it’s a wicked opportunity.”