When I got married I felt that connection – but when the kids came I felt the completion. I knew that everything from now on would be all-encompassing – those first steps, those first words. All the money in the world can’t buy an “I love you Dad!”
Chit-chat with All Black veteran & Dancing with the Stars winner …
1. A great night out for you would go like …?
NORM: Getting a babysitter, then going out for a meal and a movie. Even just taking a walk and having fish’n’chips on the beach. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It’s all about time spent together.
2. Who do you most admire, and why?
NORM: When I was growing up I wanted to be exactly like my dad – although there were parts of him I didn’t like, especially the violence. I had All Black heroes – like Mark Shaw and Buck Shelford and Andy Dalton. But I also had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. Diana had such an aura. I cried when she died, and I look now at what her boys are doing and see her influence in their lives.
3. What’s the No.1 key to a great marriage?
NORM: Communication, I reckon. Nurturing your relationship is always important. Before you get married it’s all about you two. But then you get married and have kids, and it’s not about you anymore. Twenty years later, you’re lying in bed with someone you don’t even know because you’ve forgotten to nurture the partnership with your wife. You need to beware of concentrating more on the kids than each other. It’s too easy to get complacent.
4. What music are you into at present?
NORM: I like Bob Marley, jazz, blues, U2 and Elvis. I like the fact that I can listen to this music and it doesn’t have to be about sex and drugs. Since Dancing with the Stars, there’s now a wide range of music where I can recognise the dances that go with it. Arlene and I plan to dance again soon.
5. What’s your all-time favourite movie?
NORM: Oh, I love The Lion King! It was 20 years ago when it first came out, but now I get to watch it again with my kids. They’re eight and six, so just the right age. It teaches them many good lessons – like the possibility of distraction, and how to deal with it. Life these days is more complicated for kids. They have so many options, and so many pressures to buy stuff that’s got no value or substance.
6. If you could be stuck on a desert island with just one person, who would that be?
NORM: It would have to be my wife because we’re a good team – and she can do more one-armed push-ups than me! Seriously, if it wasn’t for Arlene I wouldn’t be in the place I’m in today. At one of the toughest moments of my life she said she believed in me enough to stay. She gave me hope. I said to her 13 years ago that I would never treat her badly again, and she trusted me enough to stick around.
7. What’s the best thing about being a dad?
NORM: Everything! When my daughter came into the world and I cut her umbilical cord, I knew I had been part of the creation of life. When I got married I felt that connection – but when the kids came I felt the completion. I knew that everything from now on would be all-encompassing – those first steps, those first words. All the money in the world can’t buy an “I love you Dad!”
8. What’s the hardest thing?
NORM: Patience! I don’t think men have the same patience and tolerance with children. Maybe it’s because we didn’t nurture them through those first nine months. I know I have to work on it!
9. What’s been your all-time greatest embarrassment?
NORM: Once, while in Canada with the All Blacks, I got on the wrong plane. And when I looked around I couldn’t see any of the team! Luckily, it was going to the same town. I was too embarrassed to tell the crew that I had screwed up.
10. What’s one thing about New Zealand that you would change if you could?
NORM: I would get rid of the poverty, child abuse and child neglect. I’d take away the performance indicators for Plunket, and have a nurse available for every home for as long as it takes each new mum to feel on top of things. And I’d encourage lots of men to go into early childhood education. Young boys are nearly always taught by women, but more men in schools would help create the role modelling boys desperately need.
Issue 2 2012 Take 10 (840 KB)