World Cup winning All Blacks captain Richie McCaw probably wasn’t expected a full town welcome when he planned to visit his parents Donald and Margaret, but that is exactly what happened when Kurow welcomed back their prodigal son.
The small town, with a population of just over 500, is in the Waitaki Valley some 60 kilometres from Oamaru, and the local area – known for a series of hydroelectric projects for the Waitaki River – proudly lays claim to the 103-test All Blacks flanker.
Oamaru (also home to legendary All Black Fred Allen) and the Waitaki Valley will no doubt for generations argue with Canterbury to herald the flanker as their own – raised in the region before moving to Dunedin and Otago Boys School, before moving to Christchurch and Lincoln University.
Waitaki Valley straddles both Otago and Canterbury.
When local community organiser Bob Watherson heard of the All Blacks incoming visit, he quickly arranged some festivities and spoke to stuff.co.nz of the experience.
"There had always been an understanding we wanted to celebrate with him," he said.
"The town responded spontaneously and it went with a bang.”
"He showed his true skills when it came to entertaining a vast number of people. He is a pretty complete guy, a tremendous role model, with a social personality unaffected by fame."
It is believed that over 1,000 people turned up, despite that being the population of the greater Waitaki-Hakataramea Valley region.
The town’s main street, aptly named Bledisloe Street, saw McCaw ride in on top of a fire engine, while he met with the locals and his old schoolboy coach Barney McCone.