John is 54 years old and lives at Mangere Road, Otahuhu, with five flatmates. John lived at Homai College, Kingseat Hospital, Mangere Hospital and St John’s, and came to Mangere Road from St John’s in 1991.

John was about 12 when he first went to Kingseat Hospital. It was 1965.

John was born in the Cook Islands, but was brought to New Zealand by an auntie to have an eye operation – he’s been here ever since.

John is totally blind and has been all his life.

John says that Kingseat Hospital was “a solid metal place where you couldn’t get out”. On some occasions, people would be locked in for up to four days of the week.

There were no sports or games at Kingseat Hospital, but there was a recreation hall where John used to go to the pictures.

John also lived in Unit Five, a maximum security unit at Mangere Hospital where he was locked up “the whole time”.

One of John’s worst memories was getting thrown in the deep end of a swimming pool by staff.

At Mangere Hospital, it was ‘first up, best dressed’. The clothes were all in one big room and the staff would just get anything out for people to wear on the day.

The worst thing about being in the institutions was when parents used to take their family member out for the holidays – John had no one to take him out and was very lonely. It isn’t such a problem now that he lives in the community, because he can go out with staff.

John’s been living at Mangere Road for 18 years now and likes it a lot.

He says the best thing about living at Mangere Road is that he gets on well with his flatmates and enjoys talking to them. John enjoys the company and freedom there.

John’s lived most of his life in institutions. When asked what the best thing about them was, he couldn’t think of anything. The best thing about living where he lives now is that he gets on well with his flatmates and one of them is his best mate.

“I enjoy the company and my freedom… I do everything that I want to do.”

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© Spectrum Care Trust Board
Extraordinary Journeys
Published by Spectrum Care Trust Board