Fans new and old flock to concert

''It's nice of Dame Kiri to sing for my birthday,'' Max O'Leary quipped when he arrived for the opera singer's concert at the Oamaru Opera House last night.

The Wanaka man celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday, and one of his presents included tickets for him and wife Shirley to ''An evening with Dame Kiri''. They joined about 500 other people in a full auditorium for the concert, the only one Dame Kiri will give in New Zealand for at least the rest of this year.

Jody Robinson, of Hampden, attended the event with her parents, Bev and Peter Ross, of Waianakarua.

None had previously been to a Dame Kiri concert.

''It was a big surprise - a real pleasure to be here,'' Mrs Ross said.

In contrast, sisters-in-law Gay and Heather Gregory, of Hastings, are long-standing Dame Kiri fans.

They are well-known to the singer, who arranged to meet them after the concert in their upstairs seats.

Gay estimated she had met Dame Kiri about 25 times, and both were contributors to her foundation.

The last Dame Kiri concert they attended was in Havelock North some years ago, but when they learnt about the Oamaru performance they decided to visit the town for the first time.

''It's all fantastic - an unfound treasure,'' Heather said of Oamaru.

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