Bruce | Maungatapere, Gisborne
“I’ve connected with a lot of people that are different to me. I was eight years military, bro. When I got out of the military, I pursued what they called the Soldier of Fortune, and I spent two years doing close protection in Afghanistan, and that was when I met the Afghani people.
Now, the guy that I was looking after in close protection was the overall top cop. So, what America was doing was they were running a program called The Afghan Police Program, and the Afghan Poppy Program, and we were under The Afghan Police Program where these American Police were training the Afghani Police, and they set up training centres all over Afghan. We got to see all of Afghan, Bamyan, Jalalabad, Kandahar, a lot of places. He had his own fleet of vehicles, and he had his own chopper, too so wherever he wanted to go, we were right there next to him.
A couple of years ago, I worked in a place called Nauru. Nauru was the offshore processing centre for all the refugees trying to seek asylum, and I connected with races like Somalia, Afghan, Iraq, Iran, Rohingya, Burma, and there were even families there from Kathmandu. Wow, where the big mountain is, eh? Where Sir Edmund Hillary went. So, I have connected with a lot of cultures in my lifetime, lots of whānau and it’s been stunning. Currently I live in Australia, and my wife is Aboriginal, and so are my children. Hence, why I represent the Aboriginal colours. They’re at home at the moment, while I’m on this journey. What I have learned about the other cultures that I have met is that we are pretty much all the same. I have seen no real difference in our cultures and how we engage with each other and how we do things, physically and spiritually.
I was born and raised in Whangārei, in Onerahi, and then I moved up Maungatapere. Prior to that we were raised in Taranaki in a place called Waitara, and from Maungatapere we lived in poverty. So we became thieves to counter that poverty, and through unforeseen circumstances, I got whangai’d into another whānau, and then eventually joined the Army.”