‘Once Were Warriors’ Role True to Life - 8 March 2010

When Ray Bishop landed a role in the film ‘Once Were Warriors' he was acting out his own family's story.

"Mine was a ‘Once Were Warriors' childhood. I was born into that stuff — my dad was violent with my mum when I was still in her stomach."

Ray grew up in Tokoroa, the oldest of seven. "There was violence all over the place, everyone was getting a hiding.

"I remember once when I was a kid we saw a man beating up his wife in broad daylight outside the pub. My mum asked Dad to stop and I remember thinking ‘he's not going to stop something that HE does'.

"Seeing your mum getting beaten when you are a kid isn't the best...you are always trying to get in the way and stop Dad from hurting Mum. Dad was more violent with Mum than with everybody, but if I did anything wrong I was punched or hit with a belt. We went to Women's Refuges a couple of times and moved around to escape Dad's violence and I suffered badly at school."

Ray's father was the oldest boy of 16.

"Dad's stuff was generational when he was a child. Times were different — men had to be seen as men, they fought and always had to be tough."

But Ray decided early on that he never wanted to be a violent person.

"When I was eight or nine I decided I would be different from Dad. I always felt that I never wanted to do that to a woman, what Dad did to Mum. In order to get out of that, I immersed myself in music, dance and drama. I played rugby and became a personal trainer. I've been a radio host, worked in sales, TV and radio."

At the age of 17, Ray wanted to build an academy that would help young people realise their personal dreams and aspirations. He wrote The Dream Academy philosophy and teaching methodology in 1992 and since then Ray has been working with many government departments to help people recognise, develop and support their dreams.

Back home his Dad has mellowed as he's got older.

"Dad changed and he got rid of a lot of his bad behaviour and my three younger siblings have grown up in a different environment. Something I knew from a young age was that he did love Mum but he had no way to show it or any example to follow. Everyone remembers the ugliness, but there were also good times, especially the singing. I remember Dad's sisters singing in the kitchen when I was just five or six."

Ray is now 44 and has recently become a father to his first child. His son will grow up in a violence free family.


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