What’s your connection to Wyndham?
I’m originally from “New Zullund” – from the top of the North Island in Kaitaia, but I now live in Manor Lakes.
How long have you lived/worked in the area?
I retired from the New Zealand Army after 17 years in 2003 and we moved over here straight away, purchased a house here, and we’ve been here ever since. There was nothing here at the time, no train station, no shopping centre, it was brand new.
Tell us about your background.
I served in Singapore for three years with the New Zealand Army, then was part of the United Nations protection force in Bosnia in 1994 and East Timor in 1999. Once I returned, I did a stint, until I retired in 2003, with the NZ limited services volunteers – a bootcamp for unemployed youth. The youth in that program sign up on the national unemployment scheme and have 18 months to get a job. Failing that, they can opt to participate in boot camp or receive the benefit for six weeks. Most chose bootcamp.
Why did you decide to start up the Maori Wardens in Werribee?
My military background and working with youth lead me to where I am in the Wyndham community today. I was one of the four founding members of the Maori Wardens. It all came about when myself and other elders in our community were concerned about our Maori and Pacific youth in the streets in Wyndham. We started with five volunteers.
What other hats do you wear in the community?
I’m president of Nga Hoe Waka kapa haka group, a community committee member for the Safe Communities and cultural diversity portfolios with Wyndham council. I’m also the president of the NZRSL sub-branch of Victoria and a founding member of the Iwi Riders Victoria – a social motorcycling club.
What do you hope to achieve in Werribee?
There are a lot of traffic issues, road issues and you can’t do much about that unless you’re in government. But you can still try and make a difference. I would like to run for council at some point in the future. I have no political agenda, I just want to be there for the people.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
I’m very humble and I engage with everybody no matter what their age or background. Being a senior prison officer enables you to engage with those with varied history and attitude issues as well as our kaumatua (elders).