Rather than follow their father into the Mongrel Mob, Levi and Junior Armstrong chose to study at EIT and build successful careers.
Of Ngati Kahungunu descent through their mother, Darly Timu – “the rock of the whanau” – the brothers grew up in Hastings. Both attended St John’s College where Junior remembers being the last into class, the first to leave and sleeping through his lessons.
Having children turned the brothers’ lives around.
Junior was 18 and had not long left school when his son was born.
“Everyone was telling me to get a job at the freezing works,” he says, “but my boy made me look to the future and I was committed to studying.” Graduating with a Diploma in Applied Business and a Bachelor of Recreation and Sport, Junior is now education team leader for Sport Hawke’s Bay.
Levi was abusing drugs and alcohol and working in a labouring job when the first of his three children arrived. The older of the two brothers, he also gained a Bachelor of Recreation and Sport.
“That definitely brought a smile to Mum’s face,” Levi recalls.
Keen on sports, both men play for the Havelock North Rugby Club and have been in the Hawke’s Bay Sevens squad.
Levi, who represented Hawke’s Bay in touch and played for a World Cup-winning New Zealand touch rugby side, helped establish Patu Aotearoa. He now promotes the group exercise programme, designed specifically for Maori, as a national franchise model.
The brothers recommend EIT for a tertiary education.
Levi likes that it is local and the small classes are taught by quality lecturers while Junior urges would-be students to “take the opportunity with both hands.”