“I weighed 220kgs – now I am 110kg. I grew up in Whakātane the youngest of eight kids and was spoiled with bought lunches and not having to exercise throughout my childhood. At 17 I weighed 120kgs. No-one bullied me or they’d have had to deal with my five older brothers!
After finishing school I got into politics where there was lots of meetings with food and culturally it’s rude to say ‘no’ when it’s offered. I got to 220kg! A game-changer for me was being told by a senior person I worked with “You won’t do well in politics because you’re too fat and you’re too black.” There was my motivation!
In 2003 after unsuccessfully trying many different diets, I had a stomach operation. That first year I lost 100kg, and people thought I was George’s son. I was like, “No I am George!”
I now make sure our grand-kids eat right and exercise. Their lunch is a sandwich and fruit or vegetables. If they choose to buy a pie once a week with their pocket money, that’s OK with me.”