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Growing up

I remember we actually left Wellington because of the alcohol and my dad, and we were in a bus. My mum had picked us up, as kids, to take us back to her whanau, and then my dad followed her. There was a rift in the family because of his drinking, and the behaviours that came from his drinking. So to say this place was for my mum, was to go back from where she’s from, because it’s a homestead, it’s papakainga. The house is there for all whanau members. We went there, and dad started doing possum shooting to earn money. I’d say probably every two weeks we’d come back to town, and then that ritual would start again.

Things started settling a little bit down, and I mean a very little bit. Like I said we were gypsies, so there were certain places with my dad that alcohol was not allowed, and there were two places that we stayed. We had periods where he’d have to control his intake because other family members were around. Then when my mum finally purchased her home, not their home, her home. We started to settle down and not going to other places, but dad continued to do that.

It started... my dad would go, “go get me a beer.” So you’d go and get a beer, and because dad had a glass you filled up the glass, and there’s always that head on the top, so you quickly took it off, like you take a whish at the top, and you’d take it to dad. That’s when I started having a tutu not knowing anything but, “oh, this tastes nice”.

That’s when I started, and then as I grew older, I started from that to hiding alcohol when we’ve had different parties, went to different parties. and we were pinching alcohol, me and the cousins. Taking it somewhere else and end up being drunk. It was just a gradual process that was happening.

I started drinking and I’d have that one beer, I didn’t even know what I was feeling at that time, it was just one, I wanted to be part of the crowd, and two, it made me feel happy back then, and the more I delved into it the more I carried on repeating it. You imagine five days a week. Monday was about the only day, and Sundays, the bar was not open.

I continued drinking full out like that until I was in my 30s.

I ended up being like a binge drinker. I started off like that every day, but then for some unknown reason when you get into a relationship it’s not all about me. So what I used to do was get the most in before what we call “get the reins pulled back on us”. Would get pulled back on me. Yeah, so I’d try and get as much as I could, alcohol intake, before I got told it was time to go home.

I didn’t think I was having a problem. I honestly didn’t believe I had a problem.