Pāora Winitana is known for his skill on the basketball court but he says his greatest work is in the home as a father and a husband.
Winitana says, “Family is the most important unit on earth and anything important or anything right, there is always going to be challenges and it's hard to raise a family, anyone with kids knows that.”
Winitana was raised by his father who had a gang affiliation with the Mongrel Mob. Winitana’s household was an environment of violence, drugs and alcohol.
“Seeing that kind of lifestyle, seeing that kind of fear, it's not nice and you don't wish it upon anybody. It wasn't 'Once Were Warriors' when we were growing up, it was once were Winitanas, you know, because it was full on and it's real.”
Winitana was able to overcome those influences with the guiding hand of his mother. Now he is a proud White Ribbon ambassador.
“When you take on that role, it's a pretty serious thing and straight away I knew, I believed in it, I was all for it, I'm passionate about it and it was more of an honour to be asked really.
It's not ok to disrespect women, to abuse women and treat them with any violence whatsoever,” says Winitana.
To this day he has kept the promise made to his mother, to never raise a hand to his beautiful wife or their five sons.