Feilding's almost Olympic swimmer turns to comedy
Te Rina Taite should be an Olympic swimmer for New Zealand – basking in the glory, selling her upcoming wedding photos to the women's mags for thousands of dollars and raking it in from television and media appearances.
Instead, the Feilding woman threw in the towel to stand on a different stage. The Sydney-based comedian will return to her roots on August 19 for a stand-up gig at the Dark Room, Palmerston North.
She headed overseas 10 years ago to train under some of the world's best coaches and push herself against the world's best swimmers.
But she missed out on qualification for both the Athens and Beijing games in 2004 and 2008, respectively.
Taite was looking forward to getting back to her province of origin after moving to Sydney, simply because people could actually pronounce her name properly.
A life-long sports enthusiast, Taite often needed a nap before late-night comedy sets to save energy for her self-deprecating stories, usually about falling over.
"I decided after missing out on Beijing it was time to give it up," she said. "I couldn't see myself doing another four years.
"I'd given everything to swimming and it was keeping me from other interests and passions I had."
One of those was making people laugh.
Taite gravitated toward the stand-up scene in Sydney after attending a course for comedy film writing. Two years later, she has been regularly appearing on circuit shows, such as Comedy on Edge, Big Poppa Sean's Comedy Quiz and Roast Battles.
She took up a contract last year to appear occasionally in Wellington.
"I enjoyed the change of pace in Wellington. Also, it was nice to be around people that could actually pronounce my name properly," Taite said.
"But both Wellington and Sydney have some top quality comedians coming through and they're really cool scenes to be a part of."
Taite believed if you couldn't achieve your dream, change it until it's achievable.
Part of her act involves dissecting the "questionable" life choices she made to get where she is today. Although some hadn't worked out, they had at least given her some good material.
"I've found that comedy is the best way of washing away the sins of the past and I have no problem in sharing them with people if it gets laughs," Taite said.
Her Comedy Showcase will be hosted by 2017 Billy T Award nominee Li'i Alaimoana, who's coming off the back of his hit NZ Comedy Festival show Minority Rapport.