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Watch NZH Local Focus: Brave Rotorua designer shares his story

By Ingrid Jellick

Successful New Zealand fashion designer, Kharl WiRepa, from Rotorua, has the
world at his feet. His career is going from strength to strength after his third show at New Zealand Fashion week.

But four years ago it was a different story when he was struggling to overcome an addiction to methamphetamine. Leaving his job and returning home to Rotorua to recover came with a harsh reality check.

"There was no career opportunities for me. And I had been used to having so much and because of reckless decisions, that I had made, I was broke and I wasn't used to that," he says.

WiRepa's experimentation with the drug began at the tender age of 18. Although he was enjoying a successful career in the fashion industry, he began mixing in with the party people scene, and after smoking the drug one night, he became instantly addicted.

"Addiction becomes your god. And I was worshiping it. And that's when it becomes unhealthy.

I needed it all the time and I followed it. And that is the psyche of anyone that is an addict," he says.

The turning point came when he looked around a table of friends he'd met, after five days without sleep.

"I had just been on water, coffee, cigarettes and methamphetamine in my diet. And I went and sat down with my friends and I just felt so out of place and so not like myself because at that time I wasn't myself. I was an addict. And I remember there was a time when I was the best at the table. The most charming and the most articulate and I wasn't. And then I knew that I had become overwhelmed by a substance that was not actually benefiting me in any way."

A week after that WiRepa checked into a private rehabilitation clinic in Auckland, however, he kept on relapsing because he was still exposed to the same scene. He finally found help after going back home to his family in Rotorua where he found strength in a nurturing environment.

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- NZ Herald

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