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Tamati wins "for gays around New Zealand"

Tue 21 Apr 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

11.00PM: Two hundred Rainbow Youth supporters at Auckland's plush Langham Hotel erupted into cheers and shouting minutes ago as gay television presenter Tamati Coffey won the hard-fought final of Dancing with the Stars. Dancing with the Stars winner Tamati Coffey and dance partner Samantha Hitchcock. (pic: TVNZ) Coffey, who was partnered and coached by professional dancer Samantha Hitchcock, had nominated Rainbow Youth as the charity to receive the proceeds from the public telephone voting. TV One host Jason Gunn advised the nationwide audience that the winning margin, decided by a combination of judges' scoring and phone voting, was the closest in the series' history, before announcing that Coffey had beaten Olympic gold-winning sportsperson Barbara Kendall to the winner's spot. Coffey, whose clearly proud parents were in the live studio audience, embraced Hitchcock and was momentarily lost for words as his win sunk in. "I'm stunned, speechless... " he spluttered before regaining his cool and sending out a "Hi" to the country's gays and lesbians. "This was for gays all around New Zealand," he said. Coffey and Hitchcock wowed the judges with their dancing, particularly their final freestyle dance, a uniformed 1940s-style homage to the Anzacs danced to the tune of Maori Battalion and a wartime Andrews Sisters hit. Coffey was praised by the judges for showing "passion and heart" in his dancing, with usually acerbic gay judge Craig Revell-Harwood commenting: "I love a man in uniform," to audience laughter. Rainbow Youth Executive Director Tom Hamilton says he is thrilled with the result. "It is unbelievable that Dancing with the Stars has taken the message into New Zealand's living rooms that queer youth rock and are really important, " he said. Hamilton says he had only been in his job "about four minutes" when he took a phone call from Coffey enquiring if Rainbow Youth would be comfortable being his nominated charity. He thanked Coffey and Television New Zealand, plus all the people who were supporting Rainbow Youth this evening, including Caluzzi, drag divas Miss Kola and Beaver Brown and the management of the Langham. As well as the invaluable publicity it has received from Coffey's participation in the mega-rating TV show, Rainbow Youth will benefit financially from Coffey's appearances on Dancing with the Stars. However, the final tally of the donation it will receive is not expected to be known for some weeks yet. ran a live blog from the Rainbow Youth event this evening, it can be accessed below.    

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 21st April 2009 - 10:54pm

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