My parents migrated from Samoa in the 80’s. They were both teachers in Samoa, and education was really important to them. In New Zealand they struggled to find work, with dad working as a laborer and mum a librarian at the Otara library.
I attended De La Salle College in Mangere and did ok but was always told by teachers that I could do better. I went on to study at Auckland University. In reality I just went to hang out with the boys, drink and party. I wanted to do Health Science and knew I was wasting my time, so I decided to change to Otago University. My mates all thought I was joking but then suddenly I was gone. The only person I knew in Otago was my cousin. I had the best time there. I worked hard and made new friends. I studied so much there, I surprised myself. I planned to get into Physiotherapy or Medicine.
I loved being active and was playing pre-season rugby for the reserves. My game had finished and I was asked to play another game for the top side. In the last five minutes of the game I made a tackle and put my head in the wrong place, that was all it took. I couldn’t get off the ground. I just felt pins and needles all over my body and knew it was serious. It was March 31st, 2007. I will never forget the date.
That was the end of my Otago dream. I was 21, I had come here to study, but returned to Auckland paralysed.