My Dad is Cook Islands, my Mum Samoan. I was born in Porirua, we moved to Dunedin and then up to Tokoroa. When I was 14, the family moved back to Porirua to look after my grandad, I stayed behind and moved in with my girlfriend’s parents. Then Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and my grandmother with dementia. It was a bit of a shit storm. Mum’s all good now.

I hit a bit of a road bump before coming here 5 years ago, my partner and I had split up. I didn’t realise what it was – now I know it was mental health. After a few months we worked things out – we’re still together. Since then the rest of my family have also come over.

I started WalkieTalkies last November. I hadn’t picked that my best friend was having issues then I wondered how many other boys were struggling. We started with a closed Facebook page that now has 800 members. Every Sunday we meet up, we walk then we talk. There is no judgement, anything said stays in that space. We’ve just set up another group on the Gold Coast.

Last weekend we did a homeless drop. It’s good to give and we need to teach ourselves some gratitude, empathy and mindfulness.

When lockdown started I’d just got a new job managing a warehouse. A week into Covid they said they were pulling the pin and I was unemployed. I was angry and had a sook for about a week then thought I’d do something about it. I’m studying mental health, I want to be an outreach worker. I’ve taken the opportunity to follow my passion. I want this to be my job, growing walkie talkies – helping as many people as I can.

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Image supplied by interviewee

This interview and the others in the series are an extension of my new book “This Is Us” it is in all good bookshops in New Zealand now.

This Is Us – the diaspora in lockdown – these interviews are slightly different from the ones in the book as they focus on New Zealanders living abroad in this time of isolation.  Copyright Licensing have awarded me a grant to complete this project and convert these postings into a book.

If you can think of suitable interview subjects please let me know via pete@petecarter.nz – I currently need interviews in the more unusual places around the world.

Exisle have released This Is Us as an e-book you can buy it here.

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Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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