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Saturday 2 April 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features


Cook Islander thrives in real estate business
Successful real estate agent in New Zealand, Cook Islander Charlie Brothers also known as ‘Mr Manukau’. SUPPLIED/22032513

From a broke single dad of five living in South Auckland to getting ranked among the best in New Zealand real estate business, Cook Islander Charlie Brothers shares his rag to riches journey with Cook Islands News journalist Melina Etches.

Charlie Brothers has been named in real estate company Ray White’s top 1 per cent of most successful sales people internationally and in the top 15 in New Zealand.

For him connecting with people is key to success in this business, says Charlie, who grew up on Rarotonga.

And like most Pacific islanders, talking to people come naturally to Brothers, something he says he’s “pretty good at” with his easy going and open personality.

Born to parents Charlie Brothers Sr, who was a “farmer and a workaholic” and Ngaiono Brothers (nee Kavana from Tautu, Aitutaki), a former teacher and principal, the younger Charlie attended Rutaki, Matavera, Ngatangiia and Avatea schools before attending Titikaveka College where he served as a head boy.

In 1986 at the age of 17, he wanted to experience more of life than that “on the rock” and headed for the bright beckoning lights of New Zealand.

“My dad was a strong man and tough growing up,” Charlie Jr says, adding during his teens he thought he had it pretty rough but later realised otherwise.

Growing up having to do physical work on plantations, he yearned for something different, and was “ready to explore the world” overseas.

His first job in New Zealand was working in an orchard farm, but after just a week he quit.

“It was hard work and reminded me too much of life back home, so I left,” Charlie says.

New Zealand Real Estate agent Cook Islander Charlie Brothers also known as ‘Mr Manukau’ with his family and Cook Islands dance troupe at his 5oth birthday celebrations. SUPPLIED/22032807

He then took on work at the Crown Lynn Potteries, he quit there too. For some time, Firestone Tyre’s was his next working stint – a place where his personal growth flourished and he became the fleet services manager.

Moving on he became a courier driver where he worked with Dylan Turner, now one of the most respected and successful names in the New Zealand Real Estate industry. Turner would later introduce him to the world of real estate.

Having lived on the islands, Charlie Jr knew he had to work smarter and look into different opportunities.

But misfortune struck him down again, he and his long term partner separated. Charlie Jr was unemployed then, broke and had to take on the role of a single father to five kids aged two to 16 years.

And during this turbulent period of his life, Turner ventured into real estate market and bought LJ Hooker Manurewa from his father.

In 2010, Turner approached Charlie to have a go at real estate. “I was like, hell no…” recalls Charlie, believing that sort of job was not for someone like him.

Turner persisted and eventually Charlie gave in.

Since the job was commission based and Charlie was “broke”, Turner bought suits to get him started.

“He (Dylan) was incredible, I got my start thanks to him, and I learned so much…”

Prepared to learn and work hard, in the early years of real estate Charlie built up his foundations and work ethic.

Working long hours every day, one day it dawned on him that “connecting with people” is a significant tool to success in the business.

Resolute, he started building a relationship with “every single person” he met, from the guy who collects the rubbish, the taxi driver, the people in the stores – anyone and everyone he would come across, chatting with whomever and handing out his business card.

Being a people person, and with his engaging smile, Charlie says he never gets bored of meeting different people.

“It’s all about the relationships, and also about wanting to help people,” he says.

“I love the relationships I’ve made, and seeing people’s reactions when their house sells for really good money is a good feeling … when you help people to become millionaires from selling their properties, that is amazing and I love that I could help them.”

Support from people at home also played a very important part.

Charlie specifically notes the help and care from his biggest supporters – his two eldest daughters who he says are his initial home support team.

And his fiancée Tayla Omeara Heihei who is “also a key component of our business”. Together they have two children and between them they have nine: Evana, Devika, Mareta, Liam, Aaliyah, Ella, Anthony, Lily-Jo and Tiare John.

“Her (Tayla) support has been huge, I say to people to get things right at home first, that helps with your career.”

Like many Pacific islanders, sport played a big role in his life. Charlie is a former league, touch and tag player and a coach for tag teams in the World Cup, but these days he would rather be with his family.

One thing he always make time for is self-development, listening to motivational speakers like Jim Rohn, Simon Sinek and Tony Robbins, more or less every day.

Charlie is appreciative of having great mentors such as Turner and Adam Thompson, the owner of Ray White Manukau, “who helped me to take things to the next level”. Alongside his business partner Tom Rawson, Charlie says they have played a key part in his growth and helped him with the business.

He is consistently upskilling, and is always looking for ways to improve himself, and for those who want to venture into the profession of real estate or are starting out, and Charlie is happy to help out with advice and training.

Working in South Auckland has been “just the best thing, it’s made me,” he says.

Charlie is popularly known as “Mr Manukau” – a nickname he picked up some years back and is proud of.

The boy who grew up on the idyllic shores of Rarotonga has overcome hardship and ordeals and has made his mark as a successful man in the real estate profession in New Zealand.