04 The MoveMINT


My Mum was the matriarch of our family. She was one of 10 children and even though she’d been through a lot she never let it show. We didn’t have much but us kids always came first.

We grew up in a Maori home but with no real established cultural identity. My sisters are Samoan, I’m Korean and my younger brother is Spanish. I was given the nickname Ling Ling by my Mum’s father. He was a tough man. He also gave nicknames to my siblings and cousins who were of mixed ethnicities. I can’t repeat them here.

Everyone used these nicknames. And even though my Mum was a wonderful lady, warm and kind, it goes to show the culture at the time. I wasn’t fazed by the nickname until I started school. As the only Asian in my family, I always felt like a bit of an outsider. An outcast. Kids would pull their eyes back and call me Ching Chong. You got good marks? You’re good with computers? Yea, it’s because you’re Asian.

I really struggled with my identity. I was never seen as Maori amongst my peers because I looked Korean with a Korean name. But then I wasn’t Asian because I knew nothing about the culture. Mum was brought up with the Maori culture, but I was only part. Part Maori. Part Korean. Never whole. I just wanted to blend in. I guess that’s why I was always after the latest and coolest gear, to impress the other kids.
I made a wide circle of friends, always trying to fit in somewhere. But I never did. And then, when I was still at school, I realised I didn’t have to. Being different made me think different, and that’s served me well in life.

I’ve always been independent and confident, largely thanks to sport. On the rugby field I felt part of something bigger than myself. I had a sense of belonging. As I got older, that came in the form of my work as Creative Director in Melbourne. Now I have an incredible wife and two awesome kids of mixed ethnicities – Korean, Maori and Croatian – and I want them to be proud of who they are.
It’s one of the reasons we made MINT so inclusive. So that boys and men can see themselves represented. So they know that being different is OK. In fact, it’s great! And that no matter where they were born, how they were raised or what they look like, they deserve to feel confident just the way they are.