Kiwiest Kiwi has beloved country right behind him

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 08:54 18/11/2012
Daniel McKechnie

GOOD CATCH: Daniel McKechnie has tattooed his back with a collection of Kiwi icons.

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Backing his love of Aotearoa with a permanent reminder of its iconic offerings has earned a Whanganui man the title of New Zealand's Kiwiest Kiwi.

Daniel McKechnie, a 26-year-old plumber, was given the honour after a public vote in the hunt for the most patriotic local.

It was a large Kiwiana map tattoo on his back - filled with graphics of all things Kiwi like L&P, gumboots, kiwifruit and Dick Frizzell's Four Square Man - that secured him the title.

The tattoo, a gift from his wife, took more than 18 hours to complete earlier this year.

McKechnie said he could not imagine living anywhere else.

"It's Kiwi pride. Being a small, unique country, and having the possibilities that are here, and that you can make for yourself, is choice. Everything is on your doorstep - where I am in Whanganui, I can go surfing in the morning and snowboarding in the afternoon.

"I'm very proud of who we are and I wouldn't change being a Kiwi for the world."

McKechnie said he had always wanted to get branded with the iconic New Zealand images but said he wasn't a big tattoo person, and the New Zealand map outline was an attempt to stop the design getting too big. He said his three-year-old son particularly loved the Red Band gumboot image etched on his back.

New Zealand supermodel Rachel Hunter, part of the judging panel, said McKechnie stood out as representing the Kiwi spirit. "We were looking for someone who really embodies what it means to be a Kiwi. All of the finalists had merit but for me Daniel's entry stood out as quintessentially Kiwi and really unique."

As the Kiwiest Kiwi, McKechnie has won the chance to travel by helicopter into the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust's base in the Maungataniwha Forest, Hawke's Bay.

He and a friend will either help save Kiwi eggs from predators or release grown-up kiwis back into the wild, and they will get to name their own kiwi.

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