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FT-Jul17-eMag-1 49 frantic at the same time as his television and radio careers. He now shares a partnership with McCashin’s Brewing in Nelson, and the pace is much more manageable. Wakachangi is now found in more than 700 stores nationwide, and the company offers an App giving customers the nearest source of the beer from where they stand. He still wanders into bottle stores and stockists to ask how things are going, attends tastings and beer festivals, and answers sponsorship requests. He’s almost like the new father hovering over a baby’s bassinet, incredulous at what he’s helped to make. “The goodwill I get from people who recognise me is brilliant and humbling,” he says modestly. “I needed a tangible way of responding to that. And I’m also responsible for that, so I can’t forget.” Hart says his comedy is based on his own personality, with a 10% exaggeration factor added on. He’s serious enough to confirm that yes, he did indeed live 13,000ft up a mountain in Peru with his tunnel-building father and mother for several years; yes, he did get sent to Christchurch Boys’ as a boarder but got continuously caned for missing church; yes, he did work on the Chunnel project with his dad for a year; and yes, he’s happily married with a son and daughter. His Hauraki radio show with mate Jason Hoyte is going gangbusters, there’s a television show in the wings, and some new additions to the Wakachangi range keep him busy with promotion and branding. “When you’re small, you have to think outside the square to be noticed,” he says. “We made videos for YouTube, using my humour. We’re bottling the essence of fun, so there’s got to be some humour in it.” His recent tongue-in-cheek fishing show with Hoyte attracted some negative attention from “frustrated fishermen. I’m not precious about it. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t like my beer or my comedy, you don’t have to. Stop watching or stop drinking.” On the other hand, he’s flattered by beer-lovers buying his product and the good comments brought back by a couple of Wakachangi reps now covering the country. A new product is wrapped in secrecy, but I’m allowed to know it’s called Wakatumba. It’s “not necessarily a beer,” he says, and will join a portfolio of new offerings from the company in due course. He’s excited about the push into Australia, thinks New Zealand has huge potential for spirit-making, and is eyeing Asia with interest. A pipeline from Nelson could end with taps in every country, he muses, slipping back into his ‘That Guy’ persona. “We’d only need $400 billion…and NASA involvement.” In the end, Hart says, New Zealanders only want to be treated normally and not considered idiots. They are intelligent and loyal. Auckland based ad agencies often don’t know what Kiwis want to drink, and shouldn’t be telling us anyway. “Everyone who drinks Wakachangi says it’s a quite nice beer. I’m happy with that. Who wouldn’t be?”

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