Bino Smith & Amanda Betts earn respect among young people

We at #BTGP are stoked to have secured artist and carver, Bino Smith as the BTGP’s Youth Arts Mentor & Facilitator.

Amanda and Bino share a few things in common: they both left home and school at 15, had a colourful working and personal life, learnt how to turn nothing into something, took advantage of opportunities and both graduated from the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ & ‘University of Real Life’with honours.

While Amanda left home and school so young to escape a sleuth of abuse, Bino left to follow the footsteps of Whanau, where he became a patched Mongrel Mob gang member by the time he was 15. 11 years, later, inspired to create change in his life not only for himself, but his daughters, Whanau and community, he decided to close the door to gang life.

Introduced by chance to Sir Peter Jackson, Bino leapt at the opportunity to work for Sir Peter for 10 years as a set finisher until he decided to follow another call close to his heart: to be a Tai Chi instructor for the elderly with arthritis. Bino was also a ‘Lifeline’ counsellor, personal trainer and inspirational speaker, to name but a few paths Bino has tread.

Deeply passionate about his Maori heritage, language and self-expression through his arts, Bino put in the hard yards and attended Waikato University to immerse himself in returning to his roots, his culture, and now dedicates his life to using art to inspire young people to return to their roots, their Whakapapa, to ‘find their way home’.

As a multi-medium artist, Bino has always used art and carving to express himself and now specialises in carving out surfboard blanks to a niche market globally. 

Bino’s passion to help people from all walks of life has been his destiny for a long time. He knows the key to igniting, inspiring and engaging young people is through the power of his art blended with his own life experiences, life experiences he is unashamedly straight up and honest about.

As the head youth arts facilitator and mentor for Bridge The Gap Project, he inspires, collaborates and facilitates to an expansive community of all walks of life, including public speaking at schools and events, facilitating workshops and programms.  

Anything is possible…’he says. As long as you have the courage, determination and perseverance to succeed in life. But first, you have to believe in your potential. And believe in yourself.