Now that he has walked the length of New Zealand, Tony Williams plans to become a country music star.
The 69-year-old Wellington man, who finished the walk in Bluff last week, spent his rest day in Gore on Friday attending the Armistice Day service.
He had walked from Cape Reinga to Bluff to raise money for Doctors without Borders ( Medecins Sans Frontieres).
The former major had spent about 27 years in New Zealand’s armed forces.
It was during a stint in East Timor in 1999 he encountered Doctors without Borders staff, Mr Williams said.
He was very impressed with the group, who were volunteers and provided medical care to people in situations including wars, epidemics, and natural disasters.
‘‘They are unarmed, and neutrality is their defence.
‘‘I totally admire them and have a huge amount of respect for what they do.’’
When Russia invaded Ukraine, he wanted to help and he decided raising money for Doctors without Borders was the best way he could do so.
His sister Cathy Ahuriri-Williams, a police officer, had been his support person.
So far he had raised about $38,000 but had hoped to raise a million dollars.
‘‘The idea [is] that if a million Kiwis put in $1 each, we would hit target.’’
Next year he planned to travel to Nashville in the United States where he was going to record 45 of the many songs he had written.
‘‘I’ve written over 200 songs.’’
Then he was going to tour Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
‘‘I want to use my music to make money for veterans.’’
He decided, after a lifetime of searching, that country music was what he had been looking for.
‘‘Until you know what your true passion is, you keep looking and exploring.’’
He had already produced an album that could be found on internet playlists.
He believed it was important to keep finding new challenges as one grew older.
‘‘Too many middle-aged people make their home their hospice and sit around and wait to die.
‘‘We’ve really got to get off our butts and keep pushing.
‘‘Otherwise you just rot away,’’ he said.