When fog threatened to ruin All Blacks manager Gilbert Enoka’s visit to Blue Mountain College, he surprised people by landing by helicopter on the school’s rugby field on Monday.
Enoka’s original flight was delayed at Dunedin Airport, but Road Transport Logistics manager-director Shona Robertson, who organised Enoka’s visit, hired a helicopter to ensure he made it to the school.
Blue Mountain College principal Lindy Cavangah-Monaghan said she received the surprising phone call from Robertson on Monday morning.
“She rang and said ‘the flight’s been delayed but never fear, we’ve hired a helicopter – clear the rugby field. We’re going to need to land there’.”
After the morning excitement, Enoka was welcomed into Blue Mountain College by a haka performed by the school’s 240 pupils.
Enoka, who was the All Blacks’ mental skills coach for 15 years and has managed the team since 2016, spoke to the pupils and community members about key life skills and how to adapt to different situations.
He spoke about the importance of having a “back bone, a wish bone and a funny bone”.
“You need a back bone to be strong, a wish bone to dream and a funny bone to have fun.
“But don’t grow a wish bone where you should be growing a back bone.”
Enoka grew up in an orphanage for his first 12 years, but said it did not determine who he became.
“Circumstances don’t determine what you achieve in life – you do.”
It had been a while since Enoka had spoken at a school, but he said he had really enjoyed it.
“It was great to extend the life lessons I’ve learnt and give them some key messages from the All Blacks.
“There was so much energy in that room from the youth – it was a really, really enjoyable experience.”
Ms Cavangah-Monaghan said it was incredible to have somebody of Enoka’s credibility visit the school.
“We are so privileged to have him speak to us – the kids just absolutely loved it.”
Enoka’s speech came after 51 pupils had recently returned from Australia from a sports and cultural tour, Ms Cavangah-Monaghan said.
“The stuff he said about the back bone, wish bone and funny bone all related to the kids from that tour so much.
“They had all three of them on that tour and it’s been lovely to see.”
Enoka’s visit was a result of his work with Road Transport Logistics in Tapanui, she said.
“RTL’s manager-director, Shona, is the school board’s chairwoman.”