As we were driving from Otaki a few months back, a swarm of Mongrel Mob bikers roared past us. Kāhu, you stared wide-eyed as you do at every motorbike. I watched because I’ve been told all my life that the physical power they carry is strength – wide shoulders, tough fists, and leather – and that I should look up to strength. Society tells boys like you especially, Kāhu, that being a man means being strong: don’t cry, be brave, fight, never back down.
A lot of people you love have struggled with alcohol, I never thought I was one of them. But it’s been five months since I had a drink, and I realise now that I had never been in control of my relationship with drinking.
Not being in control of that relationship can mean different things for different people: sometimes wasted days hungover, sometimes sickness, jail, depression, sometimes death. So this is an important letter for you both.