Graham Henry's Waiheke dream

SEASIDE ESCAPE: Graham and Raewyn Henry have bought a holiday home on Waiheke Island, to escape the strains of being in the media spotlight.
SEASIDE ESCAPE: Graham and Raewyn Henry have bought a holiday home on Waiheke Island, to escape the strains of being in the media spotlight.

To escape the stresses and strains of the media spotlight, Sir Graham Henry and his wife Raewyn have been known to head to Russell in the Bay of Islands and go fishing.

So when the couple was looking for a holiday home, understandably Russell was high on the list of possible locations.

But with three children, Matthew, Catherine and Andrew, and five grandchildren living in Auckland, the pair realised if they wanted to see their grandchildren they needed to be closer to Auckland, so they decided on Waiheke Island.

The Henrys are no strangers to the island. They have spent many a weekend staying at the villas owned by John and Jo Gow at the secluded Connells Bay.

The peace was a welcome relief from coaching the All Blacks for Sir Graham.

With the decision made, the long search for the perfect holiday home began.

Eventually the couple found the ideal place, down a long drive and looking out on the water over Blackpool.

Sir Graham said the decision to keep close to Auckland has paid off with the children and grandchildren regular visitors.  

When the rest of the family are not staying, he and Raewyn ''potter around'' making the most of the water at the bottom of their garden by kayaking most days and fishing, which they both love.

''I'm happy just catching anything that's legal, kingfish and snapper, enough for a good feed.''

Sir Graham spends time with the other knight on Blackpool Beach: Sir Peter "the Mad Butcher" Leitch.

The pair became friends when Sir Peter rang him after the All Blacks' controversial loss in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

''He rang me for support, he's got a big heart. It was very thoughtful and I appreciated it.''

Now they and other members of the Mad Butcher Kayak Club meet regularly to explore the waters around the island.

''We've gone from Blackpool to Matiatia and back a couple of times. It takes an hour and a half.''

Despite enjoying the holiday home, the couple are not looking at retiring anytime soon.

Sir Graham said: ''I've got lots of commitments. I'm coaching the Blues at the moment and will be working again with Argentina.''

He is also involved in a rugby coaching website with several high profile players from around the world including Richie McCaw and South Africa's Victor Matfield.

Raewyn is busy with her netball committments as a Silver Fern selector and a member of the Mystics board.

Despite their commitments, the couple hopes to spend more time on Waiheke with lots of visits from the grandchildren.

''You know when you see the sign as you get off the ferry,  Slow Down You're Here,  you can feel your heartrate drop by 10 beats per minute.

''Actually as soon as you get on the ferry you start to relax,'' Sir Graham said.

''We get here as often as we can. We enjoy the wine, the fish and the people.

''We love it here, we just love the place.''

Auckland Now