Why Irish comic Ed Byrne wants to help Kaikoura
Irish comedy star Ed Byrne will take a detour from his New Zealand tour next month to play a one-off date in his favourite New Zealand town, Kaikoura, to help the earthquake recovery effort.
Byrne, the headline act of this year's New Zealand International Comedy Festival, is a repeat visitor to New Zealand - and to Kaikoura.
A decade ago, Byrne proposed to Claire Walker, his wife and mother of their two children, in the Green Dolphin restaurant in the town. Two years ago, they were back with their kids in tow to go whale watching.
"Without being too schmaltzy about it, Kaikoura has a very special place in my heart," he says. "When I heard about the damage, it hit me hard."
Byrne and his friend, British comic Rich Wilson, will donate their fees from a gig at the Kaikoura Memorial Hall on May 8 - sandwiched between their commitments in Auckland and Wellington for the NZ International Comedy Festival - and also plan to spend time in the area watching recovery efforts.
Byrne first visited the town 20 years ago to go whale-watching with British comedian and actor Simon Pegg (the Mission Impossible movies, Shaun of the Dead) and has been going back ever since.