WHEN Gordon Pryor woke just before sunrise to discover a young man he didn’t know climbing on to his couch, he could’ve called the police.
Or he could have grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and turfed him outside.
At the very least the fishing charter skipper from Mangawhai, about an hour-and-a-half north of Auckland, could’ve politely asked the man to leave.
Instead, he made a cup of coffee and some toast and watched as a stranger stretched out on his couch, pulled a beanbag over himself for warmth and fell asleep.
“It was a mathematical equation, you know?” Mr Pryor told the NZ Herald.
“Try and wake him up, argue with him, sort him out, ‘What’s the problem?’ Or, ‘S***, look the kid needs to sleep, just watch him, just make sure he’s okay.’”
Mr Pryor did call the eldest of his two adult children, a police officer, and was told the man was breaking the law.
But he decided to stick with his original plan to let the man sleep.
“I’ve travelled the world a bit and you know a few things and you know your capabilities if you have to deal with somebody and if you need assistance. I wasn’t unduly concerned.”
He was curious, though.
As his uninvited guest slumbered, a bemused Mr Pryor took photos and posted them to the Mangawhai Locals Facebook page, asking if anyone knew who the man was.
The post received hundreds of almost exclusively positive reactions and comments, from people praising Mr Pryor for his act of kindness to others doing quick bed checks to make sure the guest wasn’t one of theirs.
Others begged Mr Pryor to wake the man, who entered through an unlocked door, so they could find out how he’d ended up at the secluded rural property on a hill behind Mangawhai, a coastal settlement midway between Auckland and Whangarei.
Mr Pryor isn’t sure how long he let the man sleep — perhaps 45 minutes, perhaps double that. Eventually, he tapped the man on the shoulder and asked if he wanted coffee.
“He said, ‘That’d be good, cheers’, so I said to him, ‘There’s the f***en jug, you get over there and sort it out because you’ve had a free night’s kip and I’m not making you coffee. You get up there and help yourself.’”
The man, who Mr Pryor described as “more tired than drunk”, then joined his good Samaritan at the dining room table and told him his story.
The University of Canterbury engineering student, originally from Taranaki, had been at the Northern Bass festival at Kaiwaka when he caught a shuttle he hoped would take him to where he was staying in Waipu, north of Mangawhai.
But he discovered the bus didn’t go to Waipu, he told Mr Pryor.
“I don’t know where he got dropped off and he doesn’t know either,” Mr Pryor said.
“He said he was trying to walk to Waipu, so he obviously thought, ‘Well, where’s north?’ and then cut through farms and tracks and then thought, ‘There’s a house, I’ll just go and crash in that.’ To get to our place you have to cover a fair bit of mileage to get through the farms.”
The pair talked for about an hour, with the man telling Mr Pryor about his family, his studies and his part-time jobs, before a friend picked him up.
“He was really humble, a helluva nice kid.”
But Mr Pryor also wanted to make sure the man understood what he had done.
Snapping a photo of the pair, he said he would post it to the Mangawhai Locals Facebook page, where impatient residents were waiting to find out who the stranger was.
Mr Pryor included the man’s name in the post, but the NZ Herald has chosen not to identify the man before speaking with him.
“I said to him, ‘Before you go Mangawhai needs to know about this lost soul who became part of the Mangawhai community.’ [I said], ‘There’s quite a few girls who want you to stay at their place, how do you feel about that?’”
The 60-year-old also wanted to make it clear to the man that his face was now known around the community, and if he tried for another free night’s accommodation people might not be so understanding.
“I just slowly wound him up and teased him a bit and made it quite clearly known that what he’d done was not exactly acceptable, but at the end of the day it was seen as a harmless thing to do.”