Ex-cop's on The Block
One of Waiheke's own will be tearing down walls, hammering nails and painting up a storm on a popular home renovation television show later this month.
Former island police officer Damon Neal is a contestant on this year's season of The Block New Zealand.
He and wife Jo will compete for Team Blue against three other pairs.
They will renovate a house in Pt Chevalier which will be auctioned off.
There's plenty of support on the island for the man nicknamed "Demolition".
Constable Raymond Matthews met Neal at police training college and they moved to Waiheke in 2009 for work.
"The competition suits him to a T," Matthews says. "He'll be either loved or hated by people.
"He'll do some dumb stuff but it's not malicious."
Matthews says Neal took up an electrician's apprenticeship while they flatted together on the island.
He tested out his new-found skills by helping another apprentice rewire part of the flat.
"One of his parting comments was ‘it should be alright, it won't catch fire or anything'."
It was not very reassuring, Matthews says.
Neal met wife Jo on a ferry from Waiheke to Auckland in 2011 when he offered her his jacket to keep her dog warm. Matthews was best man at their wedding three years ago.
The Neals moved to Fielding but still have a family bach on the island.
A few of the island's police officers are keen to muck in and help with some of the labour-intensive renovation challenges, Matthews says.
Neal, a former second-five for the Aqua Water Pirates rugby team, has taken time off from the police for the competition.