Each student who climbed the stairs onto the TSB Showplace stage at the WITT end of year graduation ceremony on Thursday had a story to tell.
It’s unlikely any will have been more compelling than the one Zaine Rogers can talk about.
His Level 3 Farming Certificate was reward for an extraordinary and rapid turnaround in his life and life-style.
Whangarei born Rogers has recently signed a contract to work on a farm at Toko. He’s been there for several months already as part of his study through Land Based Training.
He didn’t get to climb the stairs on Thursday. He was busy – at work.
His background was one of drugs and violence, his first picture as a baby with his dad was taken in prison. These days he hands out balloons for WITT at the Stratford A and P Show.
To say Zaine Rogers was brought up on the wrong side of the tracks is an understatement.
His home was in Northland. He became familiar with the drug scene at a young age and saw family members jailed.
Nothing was “ordinary”.
His 16th birthday party was an example. He was upset to see ‘P’ at the party.
“Lots of people came and were drinking and I said I wanted no P there on my birthday. I picked up my Jim Beam, skulled it and began crying - all the others were doing drugs. I left in a truck and crashed it down a bank – I might have fallen asleep… I remember the truck rolling, grinding like a skateboard and it crashed into a post.
Go back to his first birthday… there is a picture of him with his dad. It’s taken in Mt Eden Prison, where he took his first steps watched by his whole family.
When he escaped life in Northland it was to come to Taranaki, and New Plymouth, where his mum now lived. He was on probation and wasn’t too concerned about the prospect of getting into more trouble.
“I thought: what’s another 200 hours?’’
Then Probation staff encouraged him to enrol as a Māori and Pasifika Trades Training student at WITT to do a Land Based Training course.
Under the watchful eye of his tutor and WITT and Taranaki Futures staff, Rogers blossomed on the Toko farm while dreaming of becoming a share-milker.
He jokes that he still feels like running when he sees a policeman, yet one day when he was late for PD he was given a lift there by a passing police woman who recognised him. She even gave him her card.
He remains in regular contact with both his mum and dad. He doesn’t agree with everything they have done, but he wants to impress them.
The young rough diamond is on a journey, but has a long way to go and a lot to learn.
“Akerama is my marae, Ruapekapeka the maunga, Ramarama the river and Ngatokimatawhaorua the waka,” Zaine Rogers says.
Zaine Rogers shapes up as one of the best at beating the odds.<< Back