He’s stylist or groomer to the students, the young men of Tauranga Boys' College.
If the TBC 1st XV is looking especially slick before the big game or on the trip, put it down to 17-year-old Tuerei Mackie.
When the college’s best athletes were in the spotlight receiving their awards recently it was Turei that made winners look like winners.
Because Turei is the clippers and scissors at TBC. “They say: ‘can we get a haircut bro?’, and I am: ‘yeah man!’.” Turei Mackie is the man with the savvy taper fades.
“We have a classroom called the academy room – I just line them up at lunchtime and cut hair. If not, we go to a friend’s house after school and do it.” There’s no charge. “We like to look after each other at TBC. That’s important.”
They are values he shares with Tauranga Labour list MP, Jan Tinetti. As former principal of Merivale Primary school, she watched Turei grow from a four-year-old. “Enthusiastic young man, grew up in Oxford Street, the absolute heart of Merivale, always wanting to please, always wanting to do well and always wanting to make a difference.”
So the MP wasn’t the slightest bit surprised when Turei Mackie put up his hand to join a 30-strong team of TBC college students giving their time, their labour and their finances to a Habitat for Humanity project at Sigatoka in Fiji.
His goodwill will personally cost him $3300. “Fiji seems like a good place to go for a working holiday.
“And if I am able to change someone’s life by helping build them a house then it’s a win-win situation. For those people to sleep in their own home and for me to help build that home is something special.”
There’s a desperate need for adequate shelter in Fiji, and the college is partnering with Habitat to fund and build two homes. Can Turei hammer a straight nail. “I am sure I can but we will have a building teacher on board to help us.”
If Turei had charged for his barbering skills at Tauranga Boys’ College he probably would have cut a big chunk out of the price of an airline ticket. Instead he will be doing some weekend laboring work.
“This is a big thing for this young man,” says Jan. “For someone from the heart of Merivale who seen firsthand poverty and hardship, the desire to go on such a trip wouldn’t be easy. But for him to set this goal and raise all this money to go and make a difference, that’s what I am really proud of. So I am there, I am on board.”
So how did the barbering come about? “I saw awful haircuts everywhere with my mates and I thought: ‘come on man, who gave you that crap haircut?’ It would be his mum or someone. And I thought I could do way better than that.”
Not to start with. He executed a few of his own ‘crap haircuts’, practiced on his brother before doing some work experience in a barber shop. And now he’s the man, a young man with his own glorious, enviable mane of black shiny hair. But by his own admission, a shocking and neglected cut.
It may lead to a career as a people groomer. “If you can make people feel better about themselves, then you have done your job.”
He also likens barbering to therapy or counselling. “People tell you all the beans, but it’s a privileged relationship, like a lawyer and his client. You can’t tell anyone, it’s between me and him.”
Then Turei might work in clothing retail or become a lawyer. Then again he might have a gap year and go work in an exchange school in Northern Ireland or the UK. He is a young man with style, a heart and opportunities.
If you would like to help Turei Mackie and the Tauranga Boys' College Habitat for Humanity partnership message Andrew Fredrickson on: a.fredricksonattbc.school.nz