Sobriety is my purpose (Guest Post)

Ninakaye 'strong sober indigenous'

This guest post comes from the incredible wahine Ninakaye Taane-Tinorau, renowned speaker, music manager, yoga teacher, and advocate for positive change. This post is the first of a series of three that Ninakaye is writing exclusively for us here at Living Sober. You can also hear her Sobriety Chat here.


Ko Tainui te waka

Ko Oowhawhe te maunga

Ko Rere Waitomo ki Waipaa te awa

Ko Ngaati Maniapoto te iwi

Ko Ngaati Uekaha Ruapuuhaa te hapuu

Ko Ninakaye Taanetinorau teenei

Kia ora! Most people know me as Ninakaye and I was born and raised in Christchurch in 1974. In 2024, I am coming up to 23 years in recovery from alcohol, drugs and the sex industry. I am a mother of three and a grandmother of one, and the majority of my sobriety journey has been spent here in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton), where I’ve lived for the last 18 years.

23 April 2024 is a dual milestone that represents not only my 23 years of recovery, but also my 50th birthday. As the date draws nearer, I am finding myself reflecting more and more upon my life and the multitude of reasons I have to celebrate that date.

If I were to look back at myself 23 years ago today, I would find a very broken 26 year old woman, fresh from working in the Auckland and Christchurch sex industry. At that time, I had managed to quit the industry and also my drug use, but alcohol, as my oldest, dearest “friend”, was proving to be very difficult to put down, and so I was caught in a constant cycle of relapse.

While I definitely had a dream of being completely sober one day, I didn’t believe I could actually succeed at it and so would have good phases of sobriety but would always fall back into drinking. I repeated this pattern for a few solid years.

It was after meeting the father of my children and becoming pregnant with my first child three months into the relationship that I was finally able to relinquish my alcoholic habit, and commit to a journey of sobriety for my son’s sake.

If you are to ask me how have I stayed sober this long, I will tell you a story of how I had to learn my own value. Because the former lack of knowing my own value is what lead me to escape into alcohol and drug abuse. 

The journey has been one of great self-discovery; activated by the learning of my identity and history, and the realisation of my true roles and responsibilities in this lifetime.

In the last 22 years, I have found ways to;

  • ground myself
  • listen
  • be brave
  • face fears with honesty
  • set boundaries
  • use my voice to stand up for myself and others. 

The pathway and my walk upon it is far from perfect, but all these wonderful lessons have helped to shape me into who I am today, which I know for sure there is no way I would be if I was still consuming alcohol.

In my work, I am a managing director, a music manager, mentor, public speaker, MC and a Sexual Violence Specialist. I am on three music industry boards and am a certified instructor of Kemetic Yoga. My work has taken me all over Aotearoa, and to different parts of the world. 

I believe that within the depths of our identities and our value, lies the key to our grounding into sobriety and our future of freedom from addiction.

Today I understand that I am a warrior, and that sobriety is my purpose. I look forward to sharing more with you over the next while.

Arohanui, Ninakaye

  1. blackcat 2 months ago

    Wow, what a journey you’ve had Ninakaye and what an amazing woman you are .. your strength & courage shines brightly. Thank you so much for sharing, so very inspiring & I’m really looking forward to reading more. Peace & happiness to you & your whanau.

  2. RayMac 2 months ago

    Great share like you over the decades in my recovery ive found that im the guy i always wanted to be ,and the rewards have been amazing, i look back at my drinking days and when a doctor said i was a no hoper as he put on the jacket that buttoned up the back , and im looking forward to the journey even getting better , best wishes from Bonnie Scotland

  3. ARkiwi 2 months ago

    Great post. Very inspiring, looking forward to hearing more.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. SugarBelly 2 months ago

    thank you for sharing. keep on. what a great, inspiring post.

  5. JM 2 months ago

    Kia ora! Wonderful, inspiring post!

  6. MissFreedom 2 months ago

    Thank you for this much needed inspiring post .

  7. Feisty52 2 months ago

    Kia Ora, Ninakaye. Thank you for sharing. Strong, inspirational and uplifting. Ngā mihi.

  8. IJA65 2 months ago

    Awesome. Can relate to that alcohol being your oldest friend concept. Leaving a hard drug scene behind and keeping away from it is huge but alcohol is always right bloody there.
    Really appreciate the manaakitanga in your post.
    It’s a powerful assertion of self respect.
    ngā mihi o te tau hou

    • Ninakaye 1 month ago

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing thoughts, totally understand – ka nui te mihi ki a koe hoki mo te tau nei

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