The Pongaroa Community Hall was packed to the rafters on the evening of Saturday May 26th as Puketoi Rugby's very own All Black – Brett Harvey, was honoured with a right royal roasting. The fund raising event was organised by Andy Smith, Guy Raleigh, Bruce Bowie and the Puketoi Rugby Club. It was a fitting tribute to a man who has given so much to rugby, at local, representative and international level as well being a valued member of the Pongaroa farming community.
"Harv" was roasted by an outstanding group of guest speakers including Brian Diamond as Master of Ceremonies, long suffering neighbour Robert Liverton who opened the roasting, Pete Stratton, Mark Benton, Lane Penn, David Galvin and Sir Brian Lochore.
After answering a series of moderately uncomfortable probing questions from Brian Diamond, Brett was taken to task by the panel on everything from dropping in on his neighbours, uninvited late at night, to his temporary (thankfully apparently) coaching role with a non-English speaking Italian team. As the evening progressed, each speaker shared their memories and anecdotes of Brett, his character and his antics. There were common threads that linked all of the accounts; his passion for the game, his commitment to Puketoi rugby and the respect that the panel shared for him as a person and his achievements.
Throughout the speeches, the attendees were treated to a marvellous feast of Cream Paua, Roasted Ham, Venison, Lamb and vegetables with Apple slice and cream desert. The meal was prepared by Laura Bassett and her team, who have been feeding the Puketoi rugby players and their opponents at home games for over thirty-five years. The tables were served with style by the Puketoi rugby team, dressed for the occasion.
As was his right, at the end of the roasting from the panel, Brett took his opportunity to reply to his accusers, and quite clearly proved that there are always two sides to a story! He also turned the tables on Brian Diamond by posing his own set of searching questions. A most notable point being a reminder of a commitment Brian made in the unlikely event that Puketoi ever beat Marist (which they subsequently had). To Brian's credit, later in the evening he honoured that commitment.
Bruce Bowie rounded off the speeches with some moving comments about Brett and his support for Puketoi rugby particularly through the challenges they have faced in recent times.
More than one thousand dollars was raised by the auction of a signed Hurricanes jersey, an All Black jersey and a painting by Pongaroa artist Ann Berry, after which the tables were pulled back and the crowd rocked the rest of the night away to the sound of local band DC.
It was a night to remember and everyone who was there now knows a little more about Brett Harvey than they need to.