Tuhoe Isaac is on a mission from God.
That was the reason the former Mongrel Mob leader was in Milton this month, spreading the word about his conversion from hardened criminal to spiritual messenger.
“I don’t worry about anything now because God will decide my path,” Mr Isaac said.
It was not the first time he had travelled around the country, as he liked to live a nomadic existence, Mr Isaac said.
He set off from his home in Queenstown on June 6 but his car broke down in Lawrence.
From there a friendly local identity was able to help him get his car off the road.
“Andrew Tischler helped me and so did the local police,” he said.
He struck up a friendship with Mr Tischler, of the Tischler & Co Studio Gallery, early last year when Mr Tischler bought a copy of his book True Red,which details his time in the Mongrel Mob and escape from it.
“I meet all kinds of people on this journey . . . and I spread my message.”
His message is about the power of faith in bringing about life change, and a warning against a life of crime.
From Lawrence, Mr Isaac hitched a ride to Milton, where he shared his story with the Clutha Leader and the staff at the Tokomairiro Community Hub.
Mr Tuhoe had a troubled youth in Wellington, and ended up going down “the wrong path”.
He spent his youth shuttling between New Zealand and Australia, ending up in Sydney’s Paramatta Prison at the age of 16.
Upon his release and return to New Zealand, he was a prospect for the Mongrel Mob’s Wellington chapter.
Rising quickly through the ranks, he became a co› founder of several chapters and eventually chairman of four chapters at once — Auckland, Rogues, Notorious and King Country.
In 1989 he had a breakthrough when his sister convinced him to change his ways.
“When she gave her heart to Jesus in 1975 she must have earmarked me,’’ Mr Isaac said.
“She must have thought, ‘I’m going to be there — I’m going to give him that glass of water and show him a better way’.”
It must have worked, as Mr Isaac now strives to be an example to his family, other gang members and anybody else he meets along the way.
“I spent 17 years in the Mob . . .
‘‘My mother had said, ‘Be careful who you hang around with’, and she was right.
“I was abused, and I became the abuser . . .and I didn’t want to do that any more.”