The first band tour in a few years, this was an extraordinary experience. We traveled with the Band - five boys from Hamilton, soundman Dan, Aaron’s daughter Paris (a late inclusion and highlight at each concert singing “Love Love Love” from Avalanche City), and Stu joining us as roadie and Harmonica player for the Tongariro and Taranaki gigs.

It all began with a couple of days in Hamilton to sound check and perfect a set of songs for the tour. Watching Dan complete the set-up was a wonder to behold. The sound system was huge and the sound check took more than five hours but was then “set” for the tour. With today’s technology, after this long day it would take only minutes to sound check at each concert.

The band were amazing – Dave White on Bass, Percussion and Backing Vocals, Kane Griffin on Keyboard, Vocals and Bass, Andrew Brehaut on Electric Guitar, Carey on Lead Guitar and Vocals, Aaron Wheeler on Drums, Aaron’s daughter Paris on Vocals, plus of course Steve and Ainsley Apirana doing what we do. For the two of us it was a very special time – exceedingly busy for two old folks past their prime, but exceedingly enjoyable with well attended and well received concerts in schools, churches, prisons and RSA alike. We do believe the music and stories had a positive impact everywhere we went and could be the start of more like it to come – the band are now keen to tour with us around the world.

Back in Australia now it is time to reflect - to collate the photos and the memories, to do the figures, to pay the bills, but most importantly to thank our many supporters. We could not have done this without you. We stand amazed every time we finish a tour – at the kindness and generosity of so many, and at the timing of God’s provision. It is always a joy for us to stay with those of you who offer their homes – thank you to all of you who have done that – your generosity of spirit went far beyond the call of duty.

HIGHLIGHTS: The seven eight wonders of the Apirana Experience

1. Our Leader: Seeing the joy shining out of Dave as he played with the band was a treat. Dave White: tour manager, driver, percussionist, bass player. If you want something done, or need something just ask Dave. From start to finish his leadership was extraordinary. The tour was months in the making, over in two weeks but still more to tidy up - months of negotiating with schools, churches, sponsors, musicians, hire companies. The list of duties and accomplishments is long. How do you thank someone who does all this without asking for anything for himself, who by his attitude of inclusion, his selfless willingness to get the job done, his ability to face emergencies and day to day necessities with a positive calm and his leadership skills that keep a team of nine happy for two weeks under pressure. Words just are not enough.

2. The Team: Setting up that amazing sound system. With Dan’s raw talent and laid-back personality it seemed easy. What he did was “magic”. And together with the band, what a team – with very different personalities, varying ages, yet each one contributing as they could, where they could, to make it happen – tireless, committed, energetic (in spite of the aches and pains). The gigs were a major highlight, making music with a team of excellent musicians to an excellent sound system – living the dream!

3. A big day in Te Araroa: Three concerts in one day was always going to be a challenge – two schools and an RSA – and each one important enough to make the squeeze necessary. Set-up times were tight anyway but we did it smoothly and without hic-up.  With the challenge of time constraint complicated by arrival to locked doors; pouring rain; “pack down, travel to the next gig, set up and play” multiplied by three; the need for coffee and food: it was an unforgettable day for so many reasons – and a total relief for Steve and I when Dave ordered us to go home early – before pack down at the end of the night. We slept well.

4. Accommodation: From the White House in Hamilton to a batch for the night right on the beach in Pukehina; Marae living in beautiful Te Araroa; Homemade soup and bread at 1am on arrival in Gisborne – all eight of us in the hilltop house – well worth negotiating that narrow, slippery, tight corner and steep rise to the house; Midnight-arrival-watery-adventure-park stay somewhere between Gisborne and Taupo; The Chapman Estate in Turangi; and Arcadia Lodge in New Plymouth: 5 star all the way!

5. The Prison Visit: No photos beyond this point. On our way out we discover the sign that tells us what we should and should not take in to the prison in our vehicles or on our person. You’ll have to ask the team about this special day.

6. Our Venue Hosts: at schools more often than not a group of students would gather after the concert to honour us with a haka and hongi's all round, and then bring out the food. At churches food was laid out for us - lunches, morning teas, dinners, suppers, coffees, teas.

 7. Down time: the East Cape Lighthouse in Te Araroa; a French café we stopped at in a small town that had the best pastries ever; a good coffee wherever possible, at appropriate and inappropriate times; chasing sunsets all along the coast; a tour of the Anglican Church in Raukokore, walking to the end of Tolaga Bay Jetty at midnight post gig and en route to our accommodation – to name a few.

8. The Idea Services Country Ball: A room full of people (Idea Services clients and those who came to set up) enjoying themselves – dancing away the night; Glen teaching everyone to line dance – no spectators; cowboy hats on every head and dancing boots on every pair of feet.

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