George's Story
I left in my school uniform - It was about eight o'clock at night in the middle of winter when i left home

My father thought the Jehovah’s Witnesses were a bunch of crackpots and he was disappointed when I turned to it. I idolised my father, but I sensed very early that I was a disappointment to him because I wasn’t going to be an All Black or a rugby league player. I was a little bible-reading nerd who won chess competitions.

I was nearly 15 when I told my father I wanted to get baptised (I wanted to get baptised by 1975 so I would survive and not be counted with those who would be destroyed). He said no. I said, “Well, I’m going to”. He said, “If you do you won’t be living here”. I said, ‘That’s fine’. So he said, “Well, you leave now then”. I was only allowed to take what I had on, so I left in my school uniform, and was only allowed to take my school books. He told me “don’t ever come back”.

It was about eight o’clock at night in the middle of winter when I left home. I walked down the road and met a Maori guy I knew from the fish shop. He invited me to stay at his place with him and his older sister and her husband. He made this announcement that I was coming to stay for a few days. I ended up staying there for nearly two years and becoming part of the family.

Luckily I had been working from the age of nine. I was hungry for money, and I always had more than my Dad, so that was an irritation for him. I had some legitimate jobs, like a milk run and working at the local fish shop. But I had also been stealing pornography from shops and selling it to other kids.

I kept working at the fish and chip shop and going to church meetings. From time to time I went home, when Dad wasn’t around, to see the three babies and have a cup of tea with Mum. I stayed at school, but I had no real direction and no one to direct me. I still thought it didn’t matter if I passed School Certificate because the end of the world was coming. I did my English exam in three quarters of an hour and went surfing - showing off to my mates. I only got 49 percent even though I’d got 86 percent in an informal exam the previous year. The staff wanted me to go for a recount, but I was too humiliated. I went into the second-year fifth, but I could only stomach it for six months before I left.

I knew nothing of the outside world because we’d been such a sheltered family. I didn’t know about adult responsibilities or paying your share. So when this Maori guy asked me to contribute, I was outraged. I didn’t understand that people pay for things – even though I’d been one of the top students in Commerce.

I left town and went to stay with my oldest sister in the city. She had crept away from home when she was 17 because she was pregnant to her boyfriend. I helped her. I knew all the creaking floor boards and how to unlock the door without it squeaking, so I guided her out late one night, and she married her boyfriend – much to my parents’ displeasure.

She had been the most mistreated of all of us, but she was very gentle with her four boys. I took a lot from that because I felt I was a fairly gentle person too. She had a very caring spirit towards her kids. Sometimes she’d strap them, but she didn’t reach for the jug cord. She’d usually use other measures like prohibiting their privileges. It was so balanced, so nice. Her boys got to adolescence and started flexing their muscles and wanting more independence, but she held them so well. She was always into their sport, always out on the field with them, and most of them became rugby league stars. She was always talking to them and encouraging them, and they all love her.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as attracting violence, but she seemed to. Every man in her life was violent to her – until she got into her mid-forties and began to pick older men who allowed her to have her own opinions and to take the lead role in most things.

I used to get irritated when I visited my parents and they said derogatory things about her. They were still going on about her stealing biscuits when she was young. I wondered if they were completely insane and whether they loved any of their children.

Some of my siblings turned out to be cruel to their kids too. They seemed to be living devout lives, but behind closed doors they were different people, and it really shocked me that they followed my mother’s behaviour.

After I moved to the city, I hit obstacles all the way. I had no skills, and I couldn’t hold down a job because I resented authority. I always felt I was smarter than the bosses, and I didn’t understand that you’ve got to follow the chain of command.

I often lost jobs because I’d get into a rage. I’d feel this dead cold feeling coming over me. It was almost paralysing in a sense, but it felt good. It didn’t feel good having to hold it back. Sometimes I would just give vent to it and let it run – and lose my job as a result.