Same mum and dad, but for decades they didn’t know they were brothers – until now.
Queenstown’s “Mr Showbiz” has a secret elder brother he thought he’d never know.
Simon Green, 36, who stars in Queenstown’s Les Miserables musical next month, has discovered he was born to the same parents as Christchurch company director Murray Strong, 42, who was adopted out at birth.
Green admits he was “shellshocked” to receive a letter in February from Strong, who’d decided to trace his birth relatives after decades of wondering who they were.
The ginger-haired brothers were united for the first time two weeks ago at an emotional meeting at Arrowtown’s Blue Door bar.
“I was wondering how it would all go but it just felt very natural,” says Green. “There was a huge hug and a bit of a cry.”
Adds Strong: “There were also comparisons of hands, ears and noses.”
Real estate salesman Green says he and Dunedin sister Ginny, 40, first learnt they had an older brother about eight years ago.
A cousin let slip the family secret that their parents already had a son – but had given him up for adoption at birth.
Green couldn’t track his brother down, though, as New Zealand law only permits the adopted child or birth parents to access family records.
However, his questions were finally answered recently when Strong suddenly got in touch.
Ironically, Strong is already known to many Queenstowners. In the early 1990s, he was marketing manager for the resort’s two skifields.
After getting his siblings’ names from Adoption Services, Strong wrote to Ginny and Simon Green on February 12.
Within days he got a letter back from both and phone calls followed, before all three met up.
“There’ve been many instances where our paths could and should have crossed and didn’t, so it feels like now is the right time,” says Green, a talented singer who has starred in touring musical productions of Blood Brothers and Evita.
The newly-united brothers say they’re still in the “bedding-in period” but they’re already planning a family get-together – Green has two young children and Strong, one.
It’s understood their mother Honor – who died 25 years ago – fell pregnant with Strong by then-boyfriend Warner Green.
Following harsh social norms of the time, she travelled from Dunedin to Wellington to deliver her baby, who was whisked off by adopted parents within 36 hours.
Honor, a nurse, and Warner, a business manager, later wed and had Simon and Ginny.
But they never let on to their kids about the birth of their elder brother.
Strong moved with his “loving” adoptive family from Wellington to Christchurch aged four.
Green says he and Strong have compared pictures taken of them when they were youngsters: “We look exactly
the same, with a lot of freckles.”
Just last week, Strong attended a rehearsal of Les Miserables to watch his newly-acquired brother in action.
“I was very proud of Simon, I even cried – looking at him, it’s just like looking in the mirror.”
You’re kidding: Friends stunned by connection
Mutual friends of Simon Green and Murray Strong are amazed they missed the brotherly connection.
“From their voices and looks, it’s obvious they are brothers,” says former Destination Queenstown boss David Kennedy.
In the early 1990s, ski marketing boss Strong was among a group who picked Kennedy to run the Queenstown Winter Festival – more than 10 years later, Kennedy in turn employed Green in the same role.
“I remember telling Simon, you’ve got to meet Murray, because you guys have got so much in common across Winter Festival, the marketing of Queenstown, tourism, but they never got together,” says Kennedy.
Another mutual friend, former DQ president John MacDonald, says: “When Murray told me who his brother was it was like, holy hell, I can see this and I can see that, and you can see the [similar] career paths.
“They’re both fiercely intelligent and my opening comment to Murray was, ‘By God, you two will be dangerous together’.
“They’re both gingas, they’re almost the same height, they’re of similar stature.
“The biggest joke is, can Murray sing?”
They look alike and they do alike…
Simon Green and Murray Strong not only look and sound similar, but after the newly-discovered brothers compared notes they found:
- Both had spinal surgery
- Both lost the same front tooth as adults
- Both did postgraduate marketing degrees – Green studied airlines about the time Strong worked for Air New Zealand subsidiary Mount Cook
- Both are into skiing, swimming and surfing
- OK, Strong’s musical performances are limited to humming in the shower but he does recall winning a singing prize at school.