– & DEF MFG founder
Kia Ora! Can you present yourself in Maori?
Yeah hum… Ko nik toku ingoa, ko Ngati Kahanunu te iwi. Usually, when you present yourself in Māori, you start by your canoe, then your mountain, your river, tribe and finally your name. So yeah, when you say who you are in Maori and where you come from you go through the generation to the first person that land on this canoe.
Ko (name of your waka) te waka: My canoe is (name of your canoe)
Ko (name of your mountain) te maunga: My mountain is (name of your mountain)
Ko (name of your river) te awa: My river is (name of your river)
Ko (name of your tribe) te iwi: My tribe is (name of your tribe)
Ko (your name) ahau: I am (your name)
Did you learn Māori language at school or in your family?
Actually, I’ve learned Maori language cause I used to host two Maori TV show. The first one was called “sk8 to exist” and the other one was mix of skate, snowboarding, surfing and I was the skate presenter! It’s was cool cause it was a lot of travel around, going to small towns in NZ and interview the kids, do demos, good surfers and do stories of them.
In the 13th century, the first Māori voyaged from East Polynesia in large canoes to discover New Zealand. The Maori culture originated with these first voyagers 700 years ago. Everyone knows about the haka but there’s lots of things that we don’t know about … Could you tell us 3 things about Māori culture in NZ?
Yeah, the way the several tribes landed to NZ is interesting! Each canoe landed in different area and each area became the tribe, the “iwi” from this canoe. Then, the tribes started to grow and meet each other… So country had grown from this 7 canoes! Another thing is that in the Māori culture there’s no swear words, no curse words. Then, Māori had no written language, it’s has been transmitted by symbolic meanings in carving, weaving patterns panels designs telling stories and songs.
Do you have any spiritual habits in your day to day life or before a skate session?
Hum, not really. I believe in karma, so in any action I do I try to be thankful, to be nice. I think that your past affects your present, so you must be good, maybe I’m suffering from stuffs I did in the past… I kind of have still on the back of my head that if I do bad things it will come back… That’s my spiritual way of thinking! Then, for me skating is a sort of meditation. You try to clear your mind, your focus on how to do the trick! So, I would say no real spiritual practices before a skate session but while I skate.
According to Charles Darwin we come from the monkey but according to you from which animal do you come from?
Maybe the pig Haha. I remember, that was maybe 20 years ago, a friend did a test asking me which kind of animal I’m and I think that I was the pig! I think there is a kind of meaning behind the pig and Buddhism. But it’s not the pig closer from us than the monkey? Otherwise, I would say a Dauphin! They are super smart, and they are the only ones that have sex for pleasure Haha.
Can you tell us a little bit about the skate scene in NZ? What’s your vision of its evolution?
Skateboarding scene in NZ is pretty good, is small considering the size of NZ but it has lots of very talented people. Lot of then ends up go to Australia cause the scene is bigger and there’s more opportunities. It’s kind of hard cause here it’s so small so the economy and the market of skateboarding in NZ is even smaller but the level of skating is raising. We are based in the bottom of the earth … To make it you must be in the United States, so you have to kind of a migrate to there and try to make your name, break through into the scene. Regarding the evolution, if we look in the last 20 years, California use to be the epicentre of the scene but now with internet a lot more companies from different countries (Magenta, Palas, Polar for exemple) that are becoming quite big in the industry and hopefully DEF can be the representors of NZ. That’s the goal!
What pushed you to start your own brand DEF?
I started as been sponsored. I was pretty good, wining a lot of competitions, and I used to skate for few companies. At the time, like ten years ago, a friend of mine had started a clothing company in NZ called Huffer. He sponsored me and teaches me the way he was running his business. He gave me inspiration and I just decided I wanted to break off and do my own thing. I was promoting all theses other brands and I made a name, so I thought I could use that to promote and make a couple of team riders … It was kind of easy to get in!
Do you have any intentions to spread the brand overseas?
Yeah, this year was supposed to be the year I’m focussing to spread overseas! We have a couple of Australian stores that just opened, and I know a friend that get a shop in Japan so we gonna try to get the brand here as well and maybe next year we gonna try to have a store in Los Angeles!
To survive the species have to adapt to their environment (according to Charles Darwin) … we’re in a period with lot of changes: climate, technologies … does this awareness have some influence in your day to day choices?
I try to recycle and I’m kind of aware of the fact that we create lots of rubbish, so we switched recently the plastic bag we put the t shirts in. I think that the world is changing and maybe we’ll have to switch the model up and start to create locally but for now it’s in mind but its hard… When I first started I used to have the boards made in NZ and it was a point of difference but then his costs go to expensive, but the possibility is that we could go back to him in the future. We could be self-sufficient.