Kelly | Matamata, Waikato

“I’ve overcome a few challenges in life. Growing up I had a mother that was on the verge of bipolar. So that was quite difficult, and my parents split when I was 16. I never felt close to my mother. Still aren’t.

So, that’s a challenge in my life. I get on really well with my father. He’s been my guiding light, my rock. So, that’s what I hold onto. I experienced a very bad relationship in my teenage years, abusive in many ways, and again, I had a strong father figure, supporting me through that. But I guess I failed in that I fell into that trap of wanting a sense of family, and he had that family background, and I liked that side of him, but in the end, realised that it wasn’t a great situation, and to find support in other areas. I found a wonderful man a few years later. The ways of overcoming my challenges is having great support structures I guess, and finding those support structures and finding positive people in my life and removing the negative. My husband and myself, we had fertility issues, and had the roller-coaster ride of IVF and thinking things like that weren’t going to happen for us. But we were lucky to be blessed with a child that way, through fertility and then we were lucky enough to have two beautiful children after that. But that’s probably one of the most challenging parts of my life, that was a real emotional roller coaster, and a real struggle, and having that support of my husband – it’s just having a good person in your life.

Life is very busy, pre-Covid. The Monday before we went into Lockdown 4 I got made redundant, and that was just, whoa. That day I got made redundant, I also found out we were going into Lockdown 4, and then pulled the petrol pump out of a gas station. So having to deal with insurance and my brain actually just switched off and I had two days of not being able to function. I just kind of vegged out on the couch, and then, it was just like, you’ve got children, you’ve got to get motivated, and I had a rest period. I let myself relax, and then got things organised. First stage, tidy up the house. I always find that my clarity is if I have my home base sorted. I sorted out the insurance. I sorted out the financial side of things, on what assistance we could get, and then you make contact again with people, and the support that came in, neighbours saying come and help yourself to the fruit off the trees, or the meat out of the freezer. And you get stronger and stronger, and I got part-time work again and life’s really good again. But as a mother, having kids at home for seven weeks, and then coming back into the rush of every day after-school activities, that’s been quite challenging. It’s just finding that moment to take a breather, finding those support people to help you to get through. I’m very lucky, very blessed to have many great friends that will say, I’ll grab the kids this afternoon, and I’ll take them to this while you get that sorted. Just sharing the load.

You can’t dwell on it. It’s your moment that’s happening at that time, but it’s not your forever moment. Things will change, and you look at other people, and they go through lots of hard times, but you always know whether it’s one week later, six months later, or a year later, at some stage in their life they start overcoming. 

I’m pretty much born and bred in Matamata. I did all my schooling here, I trained as a teacher at the University of Waikato, and decided teaching in the end was not something for me. I was unemployed for a little while after that, but got into a really great organisation which was an outdoor education program for youth at risk, and that taught me a lot of stuff. You’d have a work week, a mahi week, and then you’d have a fun activity week, and we did challenges like putting yourself out of your comfort zone and that taught me a lot. I’ve worked at Work and Income, and as a case manager having seen the other side of that and other people’s struggles, that’s a really hard place to work at. At the moment, I’m working at Waikato Stud, and it’s something diverse and different again. I do a lot of volunteer work in the community with rugby clubs and helping with junior rugby and community dinners. That’s a big part of my life, too.

There was always a gentleman who lived in his vehicle in a metal dump, and he used to move around and round and you’d see him parked up in different places. Then having that experience when I had my first child and living from week to week, having $20 to spare, to buy the bread, the fruit, after your main bills were paid. There were no contingencies for broken down cars and life was really hard, and so I could see how this gentleman could get to that point. I could see people when I worked at Work and Income, and the washing machine breaks down, and it just makes life harder and harder, and so community dinners was a great initiative by my friend Jackie. We collaborated and discussed the idea with her and it’s just the happiness on their faces, from something so simple as giving a hearty meal to them once a week, or knowing that there is a support structure that they know they can come and approach, was really good. The children’s faces, being able to have a drink of Milo, you get back what you give, and it’s a really great feeling.”

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