For a man shot nine times and who narrowly escaped dying in Christchurch’s Mosque shootings, Temel Atacocugu is remarkably upbeat.
By Sunday's Janet McIntyre
“We can’t be angry or upset forever”, he says, one year after he was attacked. “We have to be focussed on the rest of our lives.”
I’m meeting this friendly, unassuming 45-year-old Turkish Kiwi in the living room of his small, tidy rented house in Christchurch.
He lives alone with his bouncing labradoodle Max. I’m struck by Temel’s easy smile and the twinkle in his eye.
It’s the look of man who has been through hell and made it out the other side.
“What have your doctors said about the fact you survived?” I ask.
“They thinking I’m a very lucky man, like a cat eh?” He laughs. “They have nine life, so I don’t have anymore left”.
With the trial of the accused gunman pending we are forbidden from publishing the details of what Temel endured on that day, suffice it to say his story is horrific.
It’s also incredible that he was able to somehow walk himself out of the mosque minutes after the shootings with nine bullets in his body.
“Five bullets on my legs”, he smiles again, “and shot in my mouth and three on my arms”.
“I can say I’m alive because of a miracle”.
Temel is the proud dad of two boys with his Kiwi ex-wife, a businessman and part-owner of a kebab shop.
The former football player is back running, “like an old man”, he laughs, and is determined to play again.
After four major surgeries and facing more procedures to regain function in his arm, Temel remains positive.
As I leave he tells me he feels he was spared for a reason: “I have to do good things for the rest of my life” .
More tommorow on the SUNDAY programme, 7.30pm TVNZ1