MILLER Patane felt nervous as the newlywed couple walked towards him on the grounds of The Community of Saint Luke Church in Remuera on Saturday.
The 56-year-old has lived, mostly, on the streets for 31 years and thought he knew what they would say - go away.
It had been said so many times before.
He was wrong.
The couple, Parnell chiropractor Bronia Tindall and her Italian husband, Fabrizio Clementi, didn't come in anger.
They came in love.
Their words were tender and their gift a slice of wedding cake.
A photo of the couple sharing a slice of their wedding cake with Patane, who is homeless, touched hearts around the country after it was published on the front page of the New Zealand Herald yesterday.
Tindall spoke to the Herald about the gesture, a spontaneous decision made as the couple left for their wedding photos, but the identity of the recipient remained a mystery.
The Herald tracked him down to the Lifewise cafe on Karangahape Rd this morning.
His name is Miller Patane.
Today he told us his story, before an emotional reunion with the couple whose act of grace brought him to tears.
Patane was sitting on grass outside the Presbyterian church when he spotted the couple coming towards him.
"I was a little bit nervous. Not very many people are kind to me ... that lady that got married, she was kind to me," he said.
"She said 'are you hungry?' and she offered me the cake. [Her husband] gave me cigarettes. I was feeling happy.
"Thank you very much for helping me. I hope they have a long and fruitful life."
Early this afternoon, he was again able to thank the couple in person, when the trio hugged and chatted in a reunion outside Saint Luke's.
Tindall and Clementi move to Rome on Saturday, but Patane told them he wanted to move into a boarding house.
She hoped he could be helped.
Patane, who is supported by Government health and social agencies, told the Herald he received a benefit and had an address in Grey Lynn, but did not stay there as he did not feel safe.
He did not want to live on the streets, he said.
"I don't like being this way. It's a life I wouldn't wish on anyone."
It was hard to hold onto money on the streets and he was often hungry, Patane said.
When a door was left open during Tindall and Clementi's wedding, he had been tempted to sneak some wedding food while guests were distracted, he said.
But he decided against it.
One of eight children born to Otara parents, Patane was raised in the Mormon church and said he wanted to be honest.
His parents are dead and he has little contact with his siblings, he said.
Life was a struggle, but there were still moments of joy and wonder.
Patane's days are focused on finding safe places to eat, sleep and walk, but he had not lost all hope. He still had an answer when asked what made him happy.
"Seeing little children laugh."
He hoped others would be as understanding towards people who are homeless as Tindall and Clementi were.
"Don't judge people, because every man has a story."
- NZ Herald
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