Manuera | Kaitāia, Northland
“Recently, with covid-19 and everything that’s happened there, the kindness that I felt was when I had an opportunity to be a part of the Tai Tokerau border control and trying to encourage people to be tested if they knew much about the covid-19 kaupapa that we had.
But a lot of people stopped by and gained information from what we were giving out, they were really appreciative of what we were trying to do in regards to trying to keep the virus at bay, and especially our kaumātua and kuia, our elderly people there, as we thought that they were the most at risk. So, they were really appreciative of not only myself, but a whole group of us in different areas of Tai Tokerau, what we were trying to do. So, that’s probably, a soul-endearing kindness, you know, when people thank you. Of course, that’s on one hand. On the other hand, sometimes people aren’t very appreciative of what you’re trying to do, even though you’re doing it voluntary, but things like that happen.
For me, personally I experience gratitude for what I have and I guess in regards to my community, which is here in Kaitāia, I love this place to death, and so I’m willing to do pretty much anything that’s right, and that should be done or said. So I’m happy I’ve experienced that as well, I try to give that back to this community. My children have been, for want of a better word, blessed as they’ve grown up here, and so at the end of the day, we should try to do things that we would want people to do for us, for others, as well. So, it’s a two-way street, kindness. It helps get us by at the end of the day, especially in the environment that we’re in at the moment.
One of the biggest kindnesses that I’ve experienced in my life is my wife saying yes to me when I asked her to marry me. That changed my whole life because it wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about the person that I love, and our children that we now have, our five children. So, that’s probably the biggest one. I guess the other thing is also here in Kaitāia, in the Far North, a lot of the employers have a huge option of people to choose from when they want to hire people. I’ve always been appreciative of when somebody’s taken a gamble on me, and have hired me to work for them. That’s a kindness that has a ripple effect, not just with me, but with my whole family. I’m always happy to be a part of this community and we’ve got our ups and downs as a community here, but generally people in the Far North, we’re survivors. We’ve realised that we need each other. We do have our differences, but at the end of the day, we predominantly support each other, and it doesn’t matter what race or socio-economic background we come from, at the end of the day, we’ll always work together for the betterment of our community.
I’m originally from the Wairarapa Bush, and I’ve always been proud of that. I’m one of nine children. I’m the eldest, and at the moment I’m a baby-boomer, so born in the 1950s, and as I come toward the twilight or senior moments of my life now, I reflect back, and I’ve been so fortunate and lucky to do the things that I’ve been able to do for a boy that comes from a small area, I’ve had an opportunity to travel the world. Even now, every second year I try to take, especially young people from low socio-economic circumstances and take them overseas, mainly to America or to the islands, just to let them know, hey there’s another life outside of Kaitāia. We’re only a small part of the bigger world. But growing up I was heavily involved in sport. In fact probably too much, but at the end of the day that’s something that I have a passion about in regards to sport. I think, my wife and I, we’ve passed that onto our children. Firmly believe in structured sport, because one thing is that it keeps us busy. So, as a young boy, growing through and coming through the ranks of rugby, I had a really good experience, being able to play alongside both national players and international players as well, and to be involved in rugby overseas in Europe. I had an opportunity to live in Europe, France, Italy, England and United States, and I think that sort of helped me get a better worldview that, well I’m Māori, but I know one thing, and that is that the world doesn’t just have Māori people that live in it. So, appreciate cultures. But I do want to take my hat off to my mother and father, that did the very best that they could for quite a large family of nine children. A lot of struggles, but you don’t realise what you don’t have, because you’re too busy doing what you’re doing. So, just really happy to be here and my siblings are spread all around the world, in the States, Japan. So just really lucky to be here.
My wife and I have a gym. It’s called Gym Central, and at the moment it’s stuck up at a place in the never-nevers, and about four kilometres out of town, as part of our Whare Kura that we have up here near our airport. I don’t get really that many people there, and when we have people that come to the gym there, they’re there for a purpose, usually centred around boxing, martial arts, which I’m involved in, but we were here in town for about eight years, but sometimes you have to move on, especially when the competition comes in. Kaitāia is a small place, too small a place to have five commercial gyms, but we’re happy because we predominantly utilise our, our gymnasium for those with little or no money, and after a certain time of the evening we would close the gym down and open it up as a youth drop-in centre, so those that probably never had the money, or pūtia to be a gym member, can come in and use that, and then on a Friday night, we would change it into a soup kitchen, for those that may not have had a meal. But we try and work alongside other organisations as well, especially Church groups, and organisations of that nature. So, it was more of a community gym than anything else. Never made any money from it, but glad to say that we never got ourselves that far into debt that we went bankrupt.”