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Celebrity News

Why Art Green's granddad is his inspiration

The reality star was never a party-hard bachelor thanks to a sobering family history that kept him off the bottle

By Rebekah Hebenton
It's been six years since Art Green won the hearts of the nation as New Zealand's first-ever Bachelor. And while some people's families might have been hesitant about having their lives exposed on reality TV, Art's family supported him fully – especially his grandpa Roger.
"I said to him, 'Is there a Bachelor for grandfathers?' I wish I'd been introduced to that 40 years ago!" Roger heartedly laughs.
It's a sunny evening in lockdown Auckland when the Weekly speaks to Art and Roger over Zoom, and right from the start, it's clear how much Roger loves his grandson. Sitting next to him on his desk is a frame filled with old family photos of Art, which he proudly holds up to the camera to show us.
Art – who is married to his Bachelor sweetheart Matilda, and is dad to Milo, two, and Autumn, five months – and Roger have always had a close relationship, but Roger shares it might not have been that way if he hadn't become sober 43 years ago.
Sheep farmer Roger has packed a lot into his 84 years – he was a Junior All Black and then, during his wild OE in England, he tried his hand at acting, landing a part in the 1970 film Waterloo alongside Orson Welles.
He even auditioned to become the next James Bond, but missed his chance when Sean Connery decided to continue in the role.
But that time of Roger's life is also marked by his addiction to alcohol, something that took him years to acknowledge.
"Like many others, I denied that I had a problem," he shares. "The world around you is drinking and having fun, so you're not really invited to stop."
It wasn't until his third wife entered rehab that Roger finally thought it was time to do something about it.
"My third wife loved alcohol. In fact, all three of my wives did, otherwise they wouldn't have put up with me," Roger laughs. "Within a year of getting married, she was in treatment. She came out and decided to continue drinking, but I thought, 'I've got to do something,' so I went in and I haven't had a drink since."
Although Roger has been sober since before his famous grandson was born, Art, 33, says he has always known about the addiction that ran in his family.
"Grandpa and my dad always talked openly about Grandpa's journey with alcohol, and about how sometimes addictive personalities can run in families, so I've always been more aware of these sorts of things than many of my friends," explains Art, who recently competed in Celebrity Treasure Island.
It didn't scare him away from drinking – it just made him more careful. "When you're a teenager, the most important thing to you is fitting in, so I still drank. But I was aware of where it could go.
"Roger's relationship with my dad hasn't always been perfect and I think alcohol has had a big part to play in that. I guess from those experiences, I've seen what can go wrong and learned from that."
Since becoming sober, Roger has dedicated himself to helping others enjoy a life free from the abuse of alcohol and for the past 10 years, he has run The Retreat, a rehab centre in the South Auckland suburb of Ōtāhuhu.
"It's an honour," tells Roger. "We've helped about 1000 people at The Retreat since it opened. And for every person, there'll be countless family members who have been helped as well because the addict in their life has gotten sober."
While Art knows about the amazing work Roger has done over the years, he admits he's never really thought about just how much good he has achieved until this moment.
"Now that I'm hearing him say it all, I'm hugely proud and inspired," enthuses Art. "It reminds me that the best thing you can do with your life is to help others."
THE RETREAT'S TIPS TO HELP SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH ALCOHOLISM OR ADDICTION:
  • Try to be understanding. There are many reasons why a person may be reluctant to address their alcoholism or addiction, including shame, stigma and denial.
  • Focus on building positivity and encouragement.
  • Educate yourself when learning how to help someone with an addiction – al-anon.org.nz is a good place to start.
  • Separate the addiction from the person – you wouldn't fault someone with a physical disease. Addiction deserves the same compassion and understanding.
  • Take care of yourself by making sure you find time for activities you enjoy that aren't centred around your loved one.
  • Remind yourself that
    you cannot get your loved one sober – they have to want it for themselves.
  • Be honest and let them know how their addiction is affecting your life. Reassure them that asking for help is a sign of strength.
    Visit theretreatnz.org.nz

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