Heart of Otara
Otara has the reputation as one of the most dangerous places in New Zealand. But for Sami, who now lives in Australia, Otara will always remain in his heart as home, as the land of his father and his family.
Proud of his color and proud of his culture, Sami talks of his memories as a child, the good times and the bad including the tragic circumstances which eventually led to a new start and a new beginning here in Australia.
Sami Laga: I am the third youngest member in my family and the darkest. I am proud of my colour. I grew up in what many people consider as one of the most dangerous places in New Zealand, Otara, but to me it is home.
I’ve good memories of home, celebrating birthdays with my sister Luana, mum busy in the kitchen and the family feast. To mark a special occasion my dad and uncles always killed a pig. My family also had rough times. My parents would argue a lot and dad was always getting drunk. He did eventually start to cut down the drinking but God decided that it was time for dad to leave us. I remember that night very clearly, the screaming, the yelling and the sound of breaking glass. With dad gone, mum struggled to raise five kids.
My little brother had just been born and my sister suffered from the type of leukaemia called aplastic anemia. It was a hard time for us and I missed my dad. Mum met a new partner. They decided it was time to make a fresh start. She didn’t tell us we were moving to Australia until we arrived. I hated it at first, I miss friends and family.
Over time I have accepted living in Australia but my heart is still in Otara it is the land of my father, my family and it is my home.