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Why Pio Terei refuses to accept a ‘comfortable’ retirement
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Why Pio Terei refuses to accept a ‘comfortable’ retirement

“When they open the book of your life, it's got to be an enjoyable read.”
30 June 2023 7:25PM

Pio Terei is urging Kiwis to embrace joy and purpose when they reach the latter stages of their lives, saying there’s “more to life” than just accepting a comfortable retirement.

The broadcaster, who is among New Zealand’s best-known entertainers, made the appeal in the latest episode of rova podcast Grey Areas with Petra Bagust released on Thursday morning.

The comments came in the wake of Pio having recently turned 65 and been issued his SuperGold card.

Pio told Petra that people of his generation still have so much to give – even if they’re not quite across new technology and lingo in the same way as younger generations are.

“I’ve just realised that because I've been in life's classroom for so long, I know stuff that's valuable for other people. I've never been the sharpest knife in the drawer, but if you've been around for this long, you just know stuff,” he said.

“People see it [a lack of technological capability] as a deficiency. I see it as somebody of my age who can alter the way I operate and still do just as good as you without having that knowledge. So I just own all that stuff.

“I've been quite determined to achieve a lot over the next ten years. I'll never stop working… I want to wring life out like a flannel till it's dry as a bone.”

Pio Terei is urging Kiwis to embrace joy and purpose Photo: Stephanie Soh Lavemaau

Pio says for older Kiwis like himself, the art of remaining curious is more important than ever.

“Exploring culture, exploring food – it all comes down to exploring. The whole concept of having a comfortable retirement scares me. I don't want to be comfortable, because if I'm uncomfortable, I may as well turn my brain off.

“I want to be challenged. I want there to be a few waves on the horizon that I still have to navigate as a 65 or 70-year-old Māori man, because I'm still here and I’ve still got it.

“When I actually do ‘pop my clogs’, as the Māori saying goes, when they open your book of life, it's got to be an enjoyable read. It's not, ‘I had a job and I had a couple of kids and I don't see them much anymore’. That's all fine, but there's got to be more to life than that.”

For Pio, the motivation to live a fulfilling life is particularly important in the wake of the death of his son Teina in 2016.

Teina was just 17 when leukaemia claimed his life, and Pio says he needed space and many years to get to the point he’s at now.

“The depth of your grief is governed by the height of your aroha. And if you love something so much and it's gone, that's the depth of your grief.

Pio’s philosophy now is to choose to live each day purposefully, in Teina’s honour: “I know what he wants us to be – [he wants us] to live full lives.”

Listen to the latest episode of Grey Areas with Petra Bagust on rova, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.