Mana is a 29-year-old Māori man who lives in South Island. He has a partner and is currently working in a mine.


I started smoking at 16. A lot of friends and family around me smoked. I just tried it and I liked it and just carried on.

I don’t remember dad smoking, although he did smoke a lot – like two 50 gram pack a week and a packet of tailies a day, back when they didn’t cost anything in the good old days. My mum smokes.

We’ve just moved back in with my mum and dad. My dad vapes, which is not really smoking. We smoke outside – it’s just courtesy. If it’s just me and Dad he might vape inside, and I’ll have a few vapes. 

I’m currently OP smoking – ‘other people’s’, ha ha. It’s the best way to smoke nowadays. So, I’m really only smoking a few rollies every now and then. If it’s all right with ‘the boss’ (my partner), sometimes I’ll buy a packet of tailies from supermarkets or mainly I buy from servo’s. But usually, I just smoke with people at work.

I went through a pack of tailies the other night. I was drinking. If I am smoking, in a day I’d probably get through 25 rollies. I use super-slim filters. First smoke of the day would be about 30 minutes after I roll out of bed, get dressed and make a cup of coffee. 

Quit attempts?

I quit for a few months once. A Māori group here helped me. I can’t remember the name of them. It was just like patches. They said I could have lozenges or stuff like that as well, if I wanted. But I hated the taste of the lozenges and the gum. I chewed chewing gum, like normal gum, instead. Then, at Christmas time I started up again.  

My partner wants me to quit, which makes it hard to quit because I like it. I want to smoke still. She doesn’t smoke. That’s why I’m only really OP smoking. I personally don’t really want to stop. When I did, I wasn’t making a huge amount of money but I’m on pretty good money now, so that’ll help. So, she said, If you can do it, you can do it, but if not, righto.” 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

My uncle was told, “Don’t quit smoking.” He’d tried quitting and had a heart attack, and the doctors were like, “Don’t quit – we don’t want you to have another heart attack. Don’t smoke millions, but just keep smoking.”

Driving round, you always see people offering to hypnotise you to quit and stuff like that. Every time I go into the doctor they ask, because they’re obliged to ask, if you’re a smoker. And if you say yes, they’re obliged to tell you about Quitline and say they can give you patches if you want. But that’s it.

Tried vaping?

About 5 years ago, I vaped for a while. It was just one of those pen vapes with changeable coils. I got the strongest one there was back in the day, which was only like 10mg, or not even that. But I found I was just constantly vaping. It was annoying, like bad, 'cause I could vape even when I was working because I was in a workshop. So, I was constantly doing it. It didn’t have the same effect as a cigarette. I could have a cigarette and be as good as for ages but, yeah, I was constantly on the vape. I heard a saying – it’s sort of like feeding a meat-eater tofu. It’ll fill them up but it’s not quite gonna quench it.

Tried home grown tobacco?

A sheila where I grew up, grew it. She grew her own tobacco and I tried it. I want to get seeds so I can grow it.  I just don’t know where to get them. I’d like to try flavouring it and adding different flavours and shit. 

Bans on where people can smoke…

The ban on smoking in cars with people under 18 present – yeah, that’s fair enough. I knew it would be under the age of 18. But giving a fine to someone because a person, like a 16-year-old who smokes, is there – that’s ridiculous. It’s a hard one because a 16-year-old who doesn’t smoke, I’d probably get out of the car to have a cigarette. If it was a 16-year-old that smoked, then I’d probably have a cigarette in the car.  It’s hard to draw a line because there are a lot of different circumstances. Obviously, you’re not going to smoke in a car with someone 13 or younger at all, probably even 14 and younger. But if they’re already smoking and they’re like 15, 16, 17, 18, then I don’t see why you can’t have a smoke in the car. 

Applying it to vaping as well – if it’s a form of smoking, you should probably do it in the smoking area. Not everyone does. I’m sure vaping probably doesn’t have the same amount of chemicals and stuff in the vapour as smoking does, but it’s still common courtesy for other people. 

Taxing tobacco

The price – it pisses me off something chronic. The amount of tax we pay on cigarettes is through the roof. It’s ridiculous. In Canada and the States you can get the darts cheap as chips. A 20 pack of tailor-mades is $9 or something. It’s even cheaper in Ireland. And we’re charged $30 for a 20 pack. It’s a little bit of a high mark-up!

They should strip the tax back down. They’re getting a little bit gung-ho with that. All they’re trying to do is price people out of smoking. And all it’s going to affect are the people who don’t make much money, or if they’re on a benefit.  It’s going to affect them more because they’re addicted, so they’ll still buy smokes and they’ll have less money for food and all that sort of shit. That’s not the way to do it.

Smokefree 2025 / Legalising cannabis

I know of Smokefree NZ, the standard campaigns they usually run.

I hate the idea of that Smokefree 2025. It’s exactly why I voted ‘No’ on the marijuana referendum. I don’t know where they came up with the idea for it. I just think it’s ridiculous – they wanted to legalise marijuana, but they want to make smoking cigarettes illegal. So, you can’t have a cigarette which doesn’t actually affect your cognitive ability, but you can get stoned if you want to.

Where’s the logic? And then you get people saying, “Oh it’s only marijuana, I can smoke it if I want”. Well then, the same thing goes – “It’s only a cigarette, I can smoke it if I want.” Why should the government be telling us what we can and can’t do?  Like certainly meth and shit like that, obviously you probably shouldn’t do that. But, fuck, a cigarette? 

I have to get drug tested at work. If I have a joint, I’ll fail that drug test. I also think that people on a benefit should have to pass a drug test. I think if I have to pass a drug test to work then they should be able to pass a drug test to get a government benefit. You’ve got a huge percentage of people in this country have to pass drug tests to work. So, I just think that’s fair.

It’s not that I think the Smokefree 2025 is not achievable. They can stop bringing cigarettes in any time they want, and they’ll achieve it. But I don’t think it’s moral. I don’t think they’ve got a leg to stand on to do something like that. We all pay taxes. We all pay into the public health system.



2 months later…

I started smoking fulltime again. I just wanted to ’cause I enjoy it and the Mrs finally agreed to let me. I work 13-hour days and I wouldn’t mind being able to have the odd dart throughout the day. I drive diggers and dumpers all day, so I can smoke whenever I want. So, I tend to smoke a bit more when I’m at work than when I’m at home. My first smoke in the morning is after I’ve made a cup of coffee, within about 20-30 minutes.

I go through about a 30 gram a week. I prefer rollies, with super-slim filters and yellow Zigzag papers. My uncle drives trucks, and he used to use king-size filters – the big ones – and he’d roll big, fuckin’ trumpet cigarettes, ha ha. I’d be like, “Fuckin’ hell, they’re big darts, aye.”  He’s like, “Yeah, lasts me an hour or 2 though.” Papers must’ve only just met when he packed them together, ha ha.

Intention to quit

No, not by choice. 

Affordability of tobacco

I’m on $26 an hour, 10 hours a day, so price is not an issue. It's still a pain in the arse, it’s so expensive. 

Tried homegrown tobacco?

I’ve talked to a couple of guys who grow it. There’s one who only grows pipe tobacco, so I can’t get seeds off him. So, I’m gonna order some. But he’s the guy we’re getting everything we need to know off. I’m keen to give it a crack. It’ll be interesting. I’m quite looking forward to trying the base flavour of the tobacco to see what that’s like, and then start trying to flavour it. 

Health professional support to stop smoking

I’ve just been to the doctor ’cause I rolled my ankle. It was strange ‘cause they said, You rolled your ankle. Are you a smoker?”  And I said, “Well yeah, but, you know, I didn’t roll my ankle ‘cause I was smoking, ha ha.

My wife’s a nurse so I know they’re required, every time, to ask about their patients’ smoking status and if they’ve thought about quitting.  As a doctor you wanna get a full sense of your patient, so it’s not too bad – but it’s a bit strange ‘cause they don’t ask how often you eat McDonalds? Usually, they ask if you’ve thought about quitting or if you’ve tried, or if you need help and Quitline.



4 months later…

I’m still doing 7-hour days. I might have to go for ankle surgery, so that’ll be a bit of a break. I rolled my ankle and it turns out that 2 of the 3 ligaments on the outside of my left ankle are completely shattered. I'm going in to see the surgeon next week.

I’m still smoking the same.

Time to first cigarette

I’ll get out of bed, make a cup of coffee, make my lunch, and then go out and have a smoke. So yeah, half an hour.

Intent to quit


Tried vaping?

Ages and ages ago, I did.

Healthcare support to stop smoking

Every time I go into my GP, they ask about smoking. They haven’t offered anything. I haven’t been to the surgeon yet, but it is on the old questionnaire. 

Smokefree 2025

I’m pretty out of the loop with that now. Not home in time for the news and I don’t have phone service up where I am working. 

Restricting sales of tobacco to sparsely located licensed specialist retailers

Tobacconists? Would it be like one in Christchurch, one in Rangiora? 

Registry of people who smoke and only they can purchase tobacco

That’s fucking ridiculous! Yeah, come on guys, you wanna smoke, jump on the registry for us. 

Denicotinisation – very low nicotine in tobacco

Oh, Christ! I've tried nicotine-free cigarettes before and they're horrible. I went back to normal cigarettes. I only got them ’cause they were like bugger all. I think a mate had some.

Are they aware that they are opening up a massive black market? Look at the people who run the black market. Like, they’re not very savoury people we shall say. And, how many people smoke cigarettes that don’t smoke marijuana? 

Ban the sale of tobacco to anyone younger than 30?

Really? Wow! But if you were born on the day before you’re okay, but the day after you're fucked? Ridiculous. No, no, no. I don’t agree with that at all.

Legalising cannabis

It’s ridiculous. How can you be a smokefree country if you're allowed to smoke marijuana legally? There’s certain jobs that you're not allowed to do if you smoke marijuana. Not allowed to do my job if you smoke marijuana, if you have it in your system.

6 months later...

I started a new job today. I moved into a log truck. It’ll probably be 70 hours a week in the new job. You’re only allowed to work a maximum of 13 hours a shift in a truck. I was doing 13-hour days anyway. I did 63, 64 in the old one. So, about the same, but about a dollar an hour extra to start.

I’m still smoking about a 30 gram a week. It’s easily within the budget still, which is good.

I wake up, make a little lunch, make a coffee and, when I get my coffee ready, I go out and have a dart – so half an hour, 45 minutes. We leave town every morning, so if I see my pack and go shit, I’m going to run out today at some point, I’ll stop in at the garage, grab a 30g. I might finish at lunchtime; I might finish just as I’m getting home that night and then I’ve got some for the next day.

Workplace smoking bans

I smoke in the cab. I’m the only one in the cab. In the diggers, everyone smokes. I just have the door or window open when I’m in the truck. It’ll be my own truck and no one else will be in it.

It’s quite funny – you’ll see a truckie filling up his truck and he’s having a dart while he’s fuelling up and people are like, oh my god, it’s gonna blow up, it’s gonna blow up and he’s like, well, not with diesel. You’d have to do a really, fuckin’ severe thing if you’re gonna catch diesel on fire. Everyone thinks that if a car ever catches fire or gets shot, it’s going to blow up and there’ll be a massive explosion. My old man does blasting so I’ve seen big explosions for real, and it’s not a big explosion. It’s just like a puff of dust and you get a shockwave and a big bang. 

Tried vaping again?

No, not at all ha ha. 

Quit campaigns

I don’t really get a lot of media. I don’t even watch TV when I’m at home. I usually watch Netflix or something like that, that’s a bit more interesting. Otherwise, all you hear is Covid and we’re gonna lock the country up.

Previous Chapter
Next Chapter