Chiquita | Kaikohe, Northland

“It would be probably a young girl, who was trying to find her identity in being in a blended family, and she sort of didn’t feel she was wanted, and felt that she needed the connection of her biological dad, but he was on drugs and alcohol.

So, he never had a sense of who he was or who she was. So, we had to really work hard to tell her that we love her, that she’s beautiful, and regardless of the choices he makes, the decisions that she makes is what matters the most, and that it came to a place where we had to support her with her relationship with her biological dad, and so that was something that we had to learn ourselves as well. 

I have a lot of life experience for myself personally. I grew up in a home where there was a lot of drugs and alcohol. My mother and father were heavily addicted to alcohol. We had, well they’re known as Oranga Tamariki today, but it was Child Youth and Family back then. So, we had them involved, and it was a dysfunctional, chaotic upbringing. So, my life journey is now I’m actually a social worker going for my registration. So, I work with a lot of families in the Far North, and in Kaikohe and Kawakawa, around drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, Oranga Tamariki. So, that’s sort of where I put my life experience and see that change happen. 

My passion really comes from my upbringing, and I always relate to it, and I don’t hide the fact that I grew up in a home that was never stable, and dysfunctional. So that’s a lot of where my passion comes from, for our families and for our young people, is from my own upbringing.

I grew up in Morrinsville, Hamilton area, Te Aroha, and my background,  to be honest, and I’m ashamed of it, but that’s fine, but I never really qualified from school. I hung out with a lot of kids that were dysfunctional, into drugs or alcohol, and didn’t have a purpose in life.  So once I found myself, that’s when my changes really started to begin.

I was a young mum. So, I had my first daughter when I was 17, and I ended up in a relationship that was very dysfunctional, and very co-dependent, and so coming through that lifestyle, I was involved in drugs and alcohol, and stuff like that. I always had a deep sense of hope inside of myself that I knew that there was a better path, but I could never see it for myself. So, as I continued in life, and people came into my path, I continued to take those opportunities. Even though my change wasn’t permanent, I knew that there was something, amongst people that would come into my life. And as I continued with those opportunities, I went through a journey in my life, and it wasn’t until 2007 that I found myself in a very bad place. You can critique this if you need to, or take it out, but I ended up in a women’s correctional facility in Auckland, for being part of a crime that I wasn’t fully part of, and involved in drugs that I never really took, because I was hanging out with the wrong people. That’s where I was trying to find my identity, in people, and in a substance, but it wasn’t really there. So, it wasn’t until 2007 that I found that change, and the hope that I had deep down inside my heart, I knew that it belonged to God, I had a beautiful lady that came into the prison with me, and she was a chaplain, and she asked me if I wanted to give my heart to the Lord, and I told her, I did, and so my journey started from there, and now I’m a devoted Christian, re-born again Christian, and that’s how I choose to live my life, now.”

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