TEENS OF 2000

Eigh­teen years ago, thou­sands of ba­bies were born in the first year of the new mil­len­nium. A doc­u­men­tary pro­files six who are now 18. Sarah Cather­all — whose daugh­ter was also born in 2000 — talks with three of those mil­len­nium teens.

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Eigh­teen years ago, thou­sands of ba­bies were born in the first year of the new mil­len­nium. A doc­u­men­tary pro­files six who are now 18. Sarah Cather­all talks with three of those mil­len­nium teens.

In the month af­ter the feared Y2K bug failed to shut down the coun­try’s com­puter net­works, more than 4600 ba­bies were born to first-time par­ents around New Zealand. They ar­rived at the dawn of a new era. Auck­land film-maker Kate Pea­cocke — who gave birth to daugh­ter Seraphina in the Year 2000 — has made a doc­u­men­tary chart­ing the lives of seven of those ba­bies born in Jan­uary 2000 around New Zealand.

Jan­uary this year marked their jour­ney to adult­hood when they turned 18. It’s an auspicious birth­day — at 18, they can vote, marry with­out their par­ents per­mis­sion, get a full driv­ers’ li­cence, a credit card, and drink al­co­hol. Larenz Ol­liver, Sean Pen­nells, Tom Ste­vich, Jor­dan Cameron, Paris Sinclair, Me­gan Pren­tice and An­gela Pan were all

Hav­ing can­cer made me emo­tion­ally stronger. I just ap­pre­ci­ate things such a lot. Sean Pen­nells

born to par­ents ex­pe­ri­enc­ing par­ent­hood for the first time. Eigh­teen years on, three still live at home, and four are in tertiary study, in­clud­ing one who has fought and sur­vived can­cer. They are dig­i­tal na­tives, fac­ing sweep­ing tech­no­log­i­cal changes in their lives. A year be­fore they were born, en­trepeneur Sam Mor­gan launched Trade Me. Grow­ing up, their par­ents filmed them on video cam­eras. Their child­hood homes had dial-up in­ter­net. They were 7 when the first iPhonc hit New Zealand, 10 when the iPad was re­leased. As small chil­dren, they watched videos, then DVDs. Now they so­cialise through apps like Snapchat, Face­book and In­sta­gram. Just six took pan in the lat­est se­ries when Pea­cocke filmed them at the end of their 17th year, as they were on the cusp of mov­ing on to the next chap­ter. She ex­plored the na­ture ver­sus nu­ture de­bate to find out what signs of char­ac­ter traits were there, if any, when they were first filmed as 3-year-olds. She says Tom couldn't leave wheels alone from as soon as he could tod­dle, and one of his cur­rent ob­ses­sions is his mo­tor­bike. He is now do­ing a diesel me­chanic ap­pren­tice­ship in Wanaka. His fa­ther is also car and bike-mad. Pea­cocke says the teens were all to­tally on board. "Everyone will see some­thing they iden­tify with. Whether it's a fam­ily or a teenager. But they're def­i­nitely their own peo­ple."

Sean Pen­nells

Sean Pen­nells is in his first year at the Uni­ver­sity of Otago, study­ing zool­ogy and ma­jor­ing in marine bi­ol­ogy. He grew up in Darfield with his par­ents and younger sis­ter, Emma. At the age of 10, Sean was di­ag­nosed with leukemia. He is hop­ing to get the all-clear this year. "When I was grow­ing up in Darfield, all the kids knew me as the kid who had can­cer. It's dif­fer­ent here. My uni friends are a big part of my life. They know I had can­cer, but it doesn't de­fine me. I was di­ag­nosed with leukemia when I was ,10 10. I was pretty ac­tive, play­ing a lot of sport, and I just got re­ally lethar­gic. I think it was a shock. The hardest thing was for my fam­ily. 1 had three and a half years of treat­ment. We'd go into Christchurch Hos­pi­tal. Some­times it was ev­ery week, and some­times daily. It meant I missed all of Year 7 and half of Year 8. "T was in Christchurch when the first big quake hit. I had just had chemo and we were pulling into a Pak'nSave carpark. All these build­ings started col­laps­ing around us. Be­ing in those quakes didn't af­fect me too much. Hav­ing had can­cer means I def­i­nitely make the most of

my life. I want to do ev­ery­thing I can. I re­ally wanted to dive and so through Make-a-wish, I went div­ing at Goat Is­land when I was 12. I’ve al­ways loved an­i­mals and div­ing just opens up this whole new world. I’ve had 98 dives. I was al­ways in love with an­i­mals and al­ways a water baby.

“My par­ents had a huge in­flu­ence on who I am. They used to buy me all the books and do­cos about ev­ery­thing I wanted to know about. But they’ve never pushed me to do well. Me and my sis­ter want to make them happy and proud of us, but but they don’t tell us to do that.

“Uni­ver­sity life is amaz­ing. At school, you have to study sub­jects you of­ten don’t have a pas­sion for, but now I get to choose. I have a huge pas­sion for learn­ing. I want to do a Masters and then a PhD. You can’t ma­jor in marine science at Otago but I was talk­ing to this girl who is study­ing whales in the South­ern Ocean, which sounds in­cred­i­ble. I love boats and I love the ocean.

“The doc­u­men­tary didn’t re­ally show how im­por­tant my mates are to me. Yeah, we go out drink­ing a cou­ple of times a week. I’m sit­ting in the uni hall and there are 12 cans here right in front of me.

“My wor­ries? I was pretty ner­vous about com­ing to uni and mak­ing new friends — the right friends. Ev­ery six months I get a blood test. The last one came back clear. Af­ter five years, I’m con­sid­ered to be cured. It was on a my mind a bit when I was younger, but I don’t even know when my next blood test is now. One thing I do have though is an en­larged spleen and they’re try­ing to fig­ure out what’s wrong with it. When I was hav­ing chemo, they’d chuck the vol­umes up or down de­pend­ing on my re­sponse, and they think that high dosage means my spleen has taken a bit of a hit.

“Hav­ing can­cer made me emo­tion­ally stronger. I just ap­pre­ci­ate things such a lot. The main thing for me right now is hav­ing fun. That’s what life is all about.”

Larenz Ol­liver

Larenz Ol­liver works in a Tegel fac­tory pro­cess­ing chick­ens in Hen­der­son, and is ap­ply­ing for the army. He lives in West Auck­land with his grand­mother, his par­ents and two younger sib­lings. Fit­ness, fam­ily, food and friends are the four most im­por­tant things in his life.

“At Tegel, I work in the fac­tory from 1pm to 11pm. There are about 16 of us on the late shift. I’ve been work­ing there for three months. It’s $18.20 an hour. It’s good money, that’s the way I see it. Be­fore that, I was at an­other fac­tory, a sprin­kle fac­tory. You know, it makes hun­dreds and thou­sands. Hun­dreds and thou­sands are just ic­ing sugar.

“I’m hop­ing to go to the army in Christchurch. I’ve got my in­ter­view this month. I’ve never been to Christchurch. I’ve never been south of Auck­land, just north, and to Tonga. I left school when I was 15. I was at Rutherford High School. I got NCEA Level 1 and 2. I just didn’t want to go to school any­more. It wasn’t re­ally me. I reckon uni­ver­sity is not the real world. It’s just an ex­cuse not to get a job.

“A big dream when I was younger was to have my own restau­rant. I al­ways wanted to be a chef. That was the rea­son why I left school. I had a job lined up with Michael Mered­ith but I changed my mind.

“When I’m hun­gry, I like to cook. Noth­ing spe­cial. I just make some­thing up from what’s in the fridge. My [pa­ter­nal] grand­fa­ther was a chef in the army. He owned a restau­rant. He passed away when my dad was re­ally young, like just 16. If I don’t have a restau­rant, I wouldn’t mind own­ing a club. I like go­ing out. I’ve never smoked. It looks yuck. If I drink, it’s mainly top-shelf. I’m pretty anti-drugs. Last year, when I was 17, I got beaten up by the Mon­grel Mob.

A girl­friend? Nah, not that keen, eh? That's called lock­down.

Larenz Ol­liver

About 30 of them jumped me. They were say­ing some­thing to me and I just told them to shut up and pointed the fin­ger at them. My dad and un­cle came. It wasn't too bad. I'm quar­ter-Maori. I'm more in touch with my Ton­gan side, Dad's side. I've been to Tonga three times. It's hot there, just like real is­land life be­fore it got too touristy. "A girl­friend? Nah, not that keen, eh? That's called lock­down. "It was all right be­ing part of the doco. It was a long process. "I've al­ways been close to my dad be­cause he's so young. He was 22 when he had me. It's good liv­ing at home cos you don't need to pay as many bills. My par­ents let me know my bound­aries. When I was a teen, some­times those were bro­ken. I'm sav­ing up for a mo­tor­bike. I want a Har­ley or some­thing. There's a place I know where I can get one for cheap, like $7000 or some­thing. "Wor­ries? I worry about liv­ing not as good as I want to. Get­ting off the track a bit. Strug­gling, you know, fi­nan­cially and stuff.

Me­gan Pren­tice

Me­gan Pren­tice is in her first year study­ing health sci­ences at the Uni­ver­sity of Otago on a $6000 uni­ver­sity lead­er­ship schol­ar­ship. An ac­com­plished pi­anist and mu­si­cian, she grew up in Wellington, with her par­ents and younger brother and sis­ter.

“In the first few years of my life, Mum had a huge in­flu­ence of me, es­pe­cially through music. Mum would get us up early be­fore school and we’d have pi­ano and music lessons. When I was 8, we moved to Eng­land to be near Mum’s fam­ily for two years, and I did three pi­ano ex­ams in 18 months. Mum would sit be­side me and make me prac­tise. I passed grade 8 pi­ano when I was 10. It’s pretty crazy think­ing about it now. But then af­ter that, Mum and Dad stepped back and let me be, and they let me find my way.

“Down here, a lot of stu­dents had their par­ents nag­ging at them right through school and they come to uni and they’ve gone a bit awry. So I think that I had the right ap­proach re­ally. Music is re­ally im­por­tant. It de­fines me. A lot of peo­ple are re­ally good at net­ball or rugby or some­thing, but I’m good at pi­ano — that’s my thing. I came to Otago not sure what branch of health sci­ences I’d go into — my [ma­ter­nal] grand­par­ents are both doc­tors. But I’m keen on den­tistry be­cause a lot of things that are health-re­lated start with the mouth. Or­tho­don­tist work also re­ally in­ter­ests me be­cause I’m a bit of a per­fec­tion­ist and I like the idea of do­ing a job that helps give peo­ple con­fi­dence. There are 1500 peo­ple do­ing health sci­ences and only 50 spots for den­tistry, so it’s re­ally com­pet­i­tive. With den­tistry, there’s an in­ter­view and it’s not just about the grades, which ap­peals to me as it says some­thing about the pro­fes­sion.

“I try to think of my study as like a job that I do, where I start at 8am and fin­ish at 8pm, ei­ther study­ing or go­ing to lec­tures and tu­to­ri­als. I go to the gym and see friends in be­tween. It’s been pretty hard to ad­just to uni life though, be­cause with school ev­ery­thing was set out for you but here I have to man­age my own time.

“Yeah, my friends are the most im­por­tant thing to me right now. I’ve got a re­ally good group of friends and we have so much fun here. I’ve done vol­un­tary work with refugees, es­pe­cially around music. Mum has a refugee fam­ily she looks af­ter, and I taught them to play the gui­tar and the pi­ano. In Year 12, I started play­ing music with the Make Foun­da­tion (a char­ity to raise aware­ness about Syr­ian refugees) and I played out­side Par­lia­ment. It was re­ally spe­cial to be able to use music to shine the light on an aw­ful sit­u­a­tion.

“I’d re­ally like to do a job that’s in­ter­est­ing and that I en­joy, and I’d like to do some sort of ser­vice trip over­seas. The things I’m wor­ried about right now are the Umat test — which is like an IQ test but it’s harder. I’m also wor­ried about the age we live in. Ev­ery­thing is evolv­ing so fast. I won­der what the world is go­ing to be like in 10 or 15 years’ time, and what jobs will be like. When I was young, I wasn’t on the com­puter much. I feel like we’ve grown up at a time when so much has changed.

I’m also wor­ried about the age we live in. Ev­ery­thing is evolv­ing so fast. Me­gan Pren­tice

From left: Larenz Ol­liver, Sean Pen­nells and Me­gan Pren­tice, who were all born as the new mil­len­nium be­gan.

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