My name is Te Aotawhito Matariki Rikiti Thomas. I’m 18 years old and I’m From Arataki and little place up by the tech arena called Mangatawa.
As a kid, my life was good, but with the good things in my life came the bad. I was raised by my Grandmother and she gave me all I could ever ask for. She’s also was the one who taught me right from wrong. I lived with my parents for a few years of my life growing up and as I look back now, I know they did the best they could with me and I’d like to thank them for that.
As I reached age 13 to 14, I was exposed to drugs, alcohol, gangs and more violence than I could imagine.
As I reached age 13 to 14, I was exposed to drugs, alcohol, gangs and more violence than I could imagine. My grandmother was getting older and so was I. As a teenager, I was given freedom. My Grandmother gave me barriers to that freedom, but as a foolish teenager I broke those barriers. We stayed on a little hill called Mangatawa where I grew up. On that hill I had all my older cousins around. With older cousins, came bigger and badder influences.
Going out at night, I used to tell my Grandmother I was staying at Uncle’s, Aunty’s, or my cousins houses. Little did she know, I was roaming around Arataki, the Mount, Tauranga and Te Puke looking for the next party to drink at. With parties, came drinking, smoking drugs and violence. I loved every single one of those things because I thought it was cool. I carried on doing all these things without my two families knowing the slightest bit of it.
Fast forwarding my life to year 11/12 during school. As a senior in school, I didn’t do too bad. Some part of me loved school and another didn’t. I dropped out of Te Wharekura o Mauao school at year 12 and after that came my lost days.
As I was lost, I wasn’t really trying to do anything with my life. I was just going with the flow, and the flow was a negative one. I tried other courses and they didn’t work out for me. I was still stuck in my ways of drinking, fighting, using drugs and violence.
I didn’t really get a reality check until mid June of this year, on the day my Grandmother passed away. After her passing, I went on a few weeks of causing damage to myself and trying to inflict it on others. I was lost even more with no one to lean on.
I think a month after my Grandmother who had raised me passed away, my grandparents on my mother’s side took me in. It was a hard one for me to take because I didn’t want my other grandparents having to put up with my bullshit, when I knew that they had already had to bring up my other siblings and cousins.
I ended up moving in with them though, and they also gave me everything I could ask for. The only thing I wasn’t coping with was me still being stuck in my ways. I was still going out, doing drugs and still looking for a way to cope with my pain and being lost.
That was until 13 September, the day Jared and Krista knocked on my door looking for my older brother. They had come other times for him, but he was never around. It was the last time they had come to look for him and he still wasn’t home, so they offered me a chance at starting my journey to find my purpose in life. I also felt like I was being given another chance in making my family proud of me again.
Since being on Tai Wātea, they’ve helped me out a lot. I found people I could trust, lean on, feel comfortable around and so much more.
This program has taught me that I don’t have to do the bad things I was shown in life. I CAN do better. I CAN make it. I CAN be successful. I CAN do the better things I wanna do in life.
This program has taught me that I don’t have to do the bad things I was shown in life. I CAN do better. I CAN make it. I CAN be successful. I CAN do the better things I wanna do in life. Not only was it Aisha’s and Jared’s talks to us boys when they shared their life journeys, but it was the whole Tai Wātea program that taught me to put away that feeling of “I can’t.”
Before Tai Wātea, I was just a lost little boy, stuck in a hole. Where some people told me you could only dig deeper, meeting these wonderful people at Tai Wātea showed me that there was another way out, and that way was UP!
I am now currently on a path to being Drug free. Before I joined Tai Wātea, I was smoking weed every day. I had never gone a day without it since I had started smoking when I was 13. I’m proud to say now that I have only smoked once in the past month!
A few weeks ago, the brother Sean signed me up at Flex fitness Gym on Newton Road. Having the gym has helped me get a new routine, one that is healthy. I’ve swapped out drugs for the gym. I feel much more active and healthier.
I’m also looking at getting my drivers license. After Tai Wātea finishes this year, I will be doing the IBA program next year with a couple of the brothers here today. I will also be doing the LSV programme down in Burnham, Christchurch, and I have already signed up for this. I am really looking forward to that because it will help me learn discipline and to gain a new perspective in life. I will also meet heaps of new people.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my family first… my Nanny Gran who passed this year, my grandparents, my parents, my sister and my cousins. Because if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today.
I would also like to thank the whole Live for More team, from the volunteers to the staff, as well as the sponsors of Live for More, for making this course possible for boys like me.