He says it still doesn’t make sense. Rowdel went missing. There was a search and he was found by a tohunga in a bush area.
“They brought him back here in a closed coffin. I never got see him, which was hard because he was my only brother.”
Jistar is 26, a patched Mongrel Mob member living in Napier with his partner and three children. He still struggles with the guilt.
“I’m always stuck with why. I used to blame myself, then blame the people who he was staying with and my mum – just blame everyone. I wasn’t there for him. I was the older brother. He should have come to me with his problems. We were always in touch via text or a phone call.”
What does he want to say to his brother? “You came to me for everything else – when you needed me to beat somebody up. Or when somebody pissed you off and you needed somewhere to stay. Or when he needed someone to buy his alcohol. He came to me.”
Until recently he would never talk about his brother. “I don’t know why. Scared. Angry. Not talking. That’s what builds more anger.”
Now he wants to encourage others to reach out and talk to someone about life's difficulties. “There’s always someone there. Every time you feel alone or down, or think that no one gives a shit or no one cares about you, someone does.”
He’s been inspired by the way Te Taitimu Trust founders Zack and Georgina Makoare have told their story of losing their son to suicide.
“I thought, maybe if I start sharing my story it will give a little bit extra courage too.”
Jistar has been working with Te Taitimu, a non-profit organisation that aims to motivate rangatahi (youth) to become rangatira (leaders). He helps at the camps the trust runs for youth. He was surprised to learn how that affected his mum and auntie.
“They told me what I’m doing is helping them in dealing with their grieving.”
He’s now training at Hawke’s Bay’s Eastern Institute of Technology to become a social worker. How does that fit with being a Mongrel Mob member?
“At the start I got looked at sideways. But the bros have seen the good outcome of it. They have seen me become a better person and their kids coming to the camp becoming better people. They back me in everything I do.”