Youngest of 5 siblings, I was born a Samoan in New Zealand and raised in Australia. Like most Polynesian families where I’m from, we grew up in a religious culture, poor upbringing and factory working jobs with both my parents working for minimum wage.
My family was influenced in many ways by our cultural and religious upbringings but we were also limited by them. When my parents managed to save enough money, they made a life changing decision to leave NZ and move our family to Australia. This is where my siblings and I had the freedom to think for ourselves and to determine our own position in society based on our own decisions, experiences, skills and education. My parents made many sacrifices in order to give us this opportunity. HOLY MACK!
My dad would always say to us “Holy Mack!” (Which is short for holy mackerel) if anything good, bad, big or small happened. The phrase “Holy Mack” was a big part of my family upbringing; it was an expression that was used a lot at home, at school amongst friends, at work around colleagues, or rugby training with team mates. It was our safe word. For example, you’ve just finished an intense training session in the gym and someone says “Holy Mack! that was a tough session” or someone got injured playing rugby and you would reply by saying “Holy Mack! I saw you get smashed in that tackle.”
“Holy Mack is everywhere. It’s a part of you and everything you do in life. It can be expressed in good ways or bad, big or small. It can be used as an expression or as a statement. It’s anything and everything” – My dad.