Believe in yourself, pupils told

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The simple game of chess changed Ezekiel Raui’s life.
The 18-year-old is travelling round the country and speaking at schools with campaigner and former comedian Mike King. The pair are sharing their experiences in overcoming life challenges.
Ezekiel spoke to a packed hall at Menzies College on Wednesday.
Ezekiel told pupils he grew up surrounded by negative influences.
When he was 13, his two best friends were already drug dealers.
He is of Maori and Pacific Island descent and said he realised from watching television programmes that those two ethnic groups were overrepresented in crime statistics.
In the television programme Police Ten 7 the descriptions of offenders seemed to mainly be Maori or Pasifika.
‘‘I was thinking I’m both, I’m screwed,’’ Ezekiel said.
He decided he wanted to try to do something that was outside his comfort zone to extend himself.
He decided he and his friends would learn chess.
It was not an easy task as they learned the rules of the game from the internet.
The boys were chosen to compete in a regional chess final.
They made the finals, which Ezekiel said felt good.
Their experience at the national competition was not triumphant but it taught them a valuable lesson about how to pick themselves up after defeat.
‘‘We got absolutely hammered,’’ he said.
Since learning chess, Ezekiel had stepped out of his comfort zone on several other occasions.
He competed in kapa haka, was head boy of Taipa School, in Northland, and had attended the first Tribal Youth Gathering at the White House in Washington DC.
He is now studying at Massey University.
He had a simple philosophy containing only three points — be optimistic, believe in yourself, and when you fail you need to get back up.