Eagles band member Joe Walsh returns to the Hawkes Bay

20 years ago, rock icon and the Eagles band member Joe Walsh came to Ngāti Kahungunu and received a spiritual awakening that spurred his alcohol and drug recovery.

Hawke's Bay gang members have credited him with planting the seeds of peace between local rival gangs.

It's not often that you get an exclusive performance from a world renowned rock legend.

Joe Walsh says, “I wasn't well and I got well because of my visits with the Māoris.”

Walsh is in New Zealand spreading a message of hope.  A message that he shared back in 2004 to rival gang members, the Black Power and Mongrel Mob, at a three day wānanga in Hawkes Bay.

John Wareham says, “Over the three days, those two groups came together.  They entered as enemies but they did in fact leave as blood brothers and friends.”

Mongrel Mob President Rex Timu says, “It kind of bought us together, because I think both sides, we related to his story of his life and some of our members are going through that now.”

Eugene Ryder from the Black Power says, “He does hold a place in my heart because of what happened while he was in New Zealand, the epiphany about the abuse of drug and alcohol and that's a passion that I have especially with our youth and rangatahi.”

It's right here at Otatara Pā that his spirit was awakened by Māori ancestors, and what began his road to heal.

That was in 1989 when he was in New Zealand on the Sinners Tour with New Zealand band the Herbs, a time in his life when he was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol.

His experience at Otatara Pā is what he credits to saving his life.

I have a wonderful life now and that was really the beginning of it so I'm back to pay back,” says Walsh.

At almost 70 years of age he still continues to inspire, not only through his music, but through his message of hope and recovery as his way of giving back.