Next-door neighbour, Hampton Hill Classmate, Tawa Rugby teammate 1987-1990
The day we moved to 49 Franklyn Rd we were greeted by a serious looking line of kids along the footpath waiting to check out the newest recruits to the neighbourhood gang. Michael Naitini made the introductions. We were in.
From '87 to '90 we ruled all of McKelvey Place and most of Franklyn Rd, roaming our cul-de-sac doing exactly what all gangs of 7 to 11 year old boys do: Skating down the hill, making bmx jumps, building forts, throwing water bombs and playing Atari at Marcus Edwards's when it was raining.
Michael was the ringleader, always laughing, playing the clown. He had a killer sidestep and a knowledge of WWF Wrestling matched by none. He was the one who'd first sniff out a new adventure and it was him that usually took the blame when things went wrong. Was that Michael Naitini's idea? Yes Mum.
After school the two of us would endlessly kick a rugby ball back forth over the fence that divided our two back yards. I'd try to place it nicely, right where I thought he must be standing and into his arms - while he'd spray it in all directions and I'd be running to all corners of our yard. For years I thought he was really bad at kicking, but he just loved to make me run.