Kit’s father was a fisherman and a boatbuilder. ‘I loved my Dad, he was a massive man. He and my Mum were pissheads, but they loved us. We wanted for nothing. We were always well-clothed, well-fed and had nice bikes. They never mistreated us.’ Kit says his parents argued a lot of the time. ‘My parents loved us kids, but they hated each other.’
Kit’s mum and dad were both alcoholics, and Kit had easy access to alcohol from a very young age. “I started drinking at the age of six. As both my parents were drinkers, I pinched half-filled bottles of beer. There was always so much alcohol around.” Kit’s mum died when she was only 46 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver. At that point Kit’s dad stopped drinking, but took up smoking cannabis.
Kit’s brother and two sisters took up drinking early too. Now two of them are teetotallers, and one drinks every day. Kit likes one of his sisters, ‘the rest can kiss my bum’.
Kit was pretty sober and together as a teenager, and then at 22 his relationship broke up. He ‘went off the rails, and started drinking heavily’. At this point Kit went to jail for the first time – and has served another seven sentences since then – about nine years in total. He says ‘I’ve got pretty wicked criminal convictions, really ugly. Attempted murder, violence, escaping, aggravated burglary.’
That first six-year jail sentence was pretty traumatic for Kit, and when he got out his drinking got much worse. ‘Jail was such a horrible experience. Twelve people committed suicide while I was in there, some of them my friends. One guy burnt himself to death in his cell. I saw another guy get murdered.’
Kit has done a residential alcohol and drug treatment programme, and says: ‘It was pretty good. I stayed sober for a while. I met this girl there, and we hooked up when we got out. She started drinking again, and then so did I. We got married and went to England, but it didn’t last long. I went to Soup Kitchens over there, too.’ Kit eventually got deported for fighting on the street.
Kit is pretty content with his living situation, he’s living in a vacant garage in the city. ‘It has water, but no power. I can lock myself in, and that’s pretty important. I don’t think the people who own it know I’m there – I’m always out early and I leave it really tidy.’ Kit has stayed at the Wellington Night Shelter, but does not want to go back there. ‘There’s too much snoring and stinky feet.’
Kit recently had a Housing New Zealand flat in Wilton, but left it after about fourteen months. He’d been living there with his girlfriend, and after they broke up ‘it didn’t feel like home anymore’. The distance to the city was also really isolating. ‘It was too far away, and I was lonely. I never had any visitors, it was too far away. I walked into town and back, or sometimes took the bus, but it’s $7 for a return trip. I couldn’t afford to do that very often, and neither could my friends.’
Kit would love to get some work. He, like his father, has worked as a fisherman. Kit says he loved fishing, but there’s no money in it now, there are so few fish out there. Kit has also worked as a painter – but is finding it really hard to get work, because of his age, and his criminal convictions. ‘You have to be honest when you go for a job, and now people google you too.’ It’s two years since Kit last worked, and it does get him down sometimes.
Kit also has a son, but hasn’t seen him in a long time. His son is 32, and Kit says: ‘I don’t really know him, we don’t have any contact. We didn’t finish on good terms. I told him to f… off. But I didn’t mean forever.’