Tama Brown says it took a long time to realise he was on a road to nowhere but after a health scare he's now back on track.
The Certificate in Māori Performing Arts (CMPA) music tauira was living a lifestyle which was having serious impacts on his health.
Music had always been a constant for the 29-year-old but his hedonistic lifestyle very nearly cut his life short.
"I got a blood clot in my heart and the hospital told me 'you're lucky, but if you keep going the way you're going, you'll have a full-on heart attack'," he says.
"I looked at it all and thought; 'yep that's enough,'. My willpower is strong like that."
Before that, he'd been into partying, various addictions and even getting hit by his mate's car for laughs. He also lived through the suicide of more than a dozen of his mates.
"I went through a lot of different scenarios about it myself," he says.
A near-fatal car accident four years ago ripped his face open, making him acutely aware of his own mortality. He resolved to calm his ways after waking up from surgery to the worried faces of relieved whānau and friends.
However, that didn't last long as he returned to his old ways with his old friends whio did little other than drinking and taking drugs.
"That was my life, that's how we grew up. We knew it was bad, but that was our choice."
It was the health scare which finally convinced him to sort his life out.
"After the heart attack scare I just pulled my head in and thought; 'this is it, I've got to man up for my nieces and nephews and find myself again'."
That's when Tama returned to his love of music and eventually contacted CMPA music kaiako Lisa Cave.
"She showed me around (Māngere campus) and I when I saw the Innovation Hub I thought, 'Oh yes I'm in'."
Tama says he loves the practical side of the learning at TWoA.
"It's easier for me to relate to because it's hands on," he says.
"But I kept giving up on myself because my timing was off. On my own I was sweet, but there were a few times where I was like, 'right I suck at this I’m out of here'."
However, Lisa took him through breathing exercises and techniques so he could learn to keep in time and he stayed on.
He also found the business side of the industry interesting while discovering a love for working the stage and entertaining people.
And despite past injuries still affecting his body, he's in demand, with solo gigs lined.
"I've got everything I'd hoped for out of this course," he says.
"It's absolutely been worthwhile. From the first day I walked in the door it changed my life. I'm a lot different from what I used to be. A lot of people would say that too. I'm more confident now thanks to the people I've surrounded myself with in this course. Had I not come here I would never have met them. The universe works in heaps of different ways. It's good like that."