Tamati what inspired you to become a painter?
I left school at 16 and got a job in the meat works, but I got a few injuries. I was playing good rugby at the time, and couldn’t afford to let my rep team down, so I was on the lookout for something else. My uncle was a painter and he suggested I do a painting course. That course set me up for my painting apprenticeship – and I’ve been painting for the last 25 years! What I love about painting is that you can drive past a building ten years after you’ve painted it, and it still looks good. There’s a lot of job satisfaction in that.

Tell us something we might not know about your profession.
When you tell someone you’re a painter, they usually just think you paint houses – that’s painting and decorating. But there are so many different types of painting. There’s marine, industrial, commercial, residential. Sure, I’ve painted a lot of houses in my time, but I’ve also painted for KiwiRail and Auckland Transport, and I’ve been involved with Ngai Tahu and the Christchurch rebuild. I spent years working as an industrial painter for global company Metso, painting loaders, diggers, forklifts, cranes, rock crushers. I’ve painted Air New Zealand planes and an America’s Cup boat. The best thing I ever painted was an Aston Martin. I’ve got a real passion for cars, which goes all the way back to my great gran who had an early Ford Model T. That car is still in the family and it still looks immaculate.

What makes a good painter?
Patience is definitely a virtue in this job. Plus, you need good attention to detail and to take pride in your work. That’s what will set you apart from the rest.

Why did you want to become a tutor?
I’ve had a great career with a lot of variety. When I was with Metso, our crew had the reputation for being world-class painters – we were the Rolls-Royces of the company and they’d send all their painting teams from around the world to us for training, so that all their work was standardised. I really enjoyed teaching people, and watching them grow in their careers, so when the opportunity came up to teach painting and decorating at Aspire2 Trades I jumped at it. I want to get back to our young ones and pass on my skills to the next generation.