Levin teacher sings his heart out
Underneath his manly exterior Ricky Heihei is a romantic at heart.
The Levin East School teacher proved this on Valentines Day when he won Te Takere's Sing Your Heart Out contest.
Mr Heihei beat nine other contestants, mostly teenagers, with his version of the Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody.
''I sang it for my wife - it's our song,'' he said.
''Back when we were courting I used to sing it to her - and other songs. I'd even call her up about one in the morning and sing to her over the phone. But don't put that in the paper or it'll ruin my reputation.''
Mr Heihei's prize for winning the contest was a free recording session in Te Takere Horowhenua Culture and Community Centre's content creation suite.
He plans to record a CD - for his wife Cindy - including the songs Unchained Melody and Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle, among others.
Mr Heihei said he would also sing Butterfly Kisses at their 18-year-old daughter Siobhan's wedding.
''That is when she get's married. She's not engaged yet. But I've told her I'd sing it ever since she was a little girl.''
Siobhan's partner Fala Matua is one of three members of Levin's talented singing group The Cargill Boys, who recently won a place in TV3's X Factor NZ heats next week in Auckland.
Fala and a friend also entered last Thursday's Sing Your Heart Out contest, but proved no match for his potential father in law.
''Tough competition? Not really,'' Mr Heihei said.
''I'd beat them any day - and that is something you can put in the paper,'' he said, with a grin on his face.
Mr Heihei is also no stranger to winning from singing.
He once won $700 with his rendition of Unchained Melody during a local talent quest.
''That was good. The money went towards filling up our big freezer with meat.''
A school teacher for six years, Mr Heihei was previously a drainlayer for 14 years but also sang in bands.
''I miss that side of singing, but I don't miss the travelling to gigs all over the countryside every weekend,'' he said.
''I just love singing. I really wanted to be an opera singer. What they can do with their voices is amazing - just beautiful.''