Mani | Kaikōura Flats, Canterbury
I had a pretty rough upbringing. So, that has influenced me not to be like that for my children now. I knew that was everything I didn’t want to be. Lots of drugs and alcohol, and all that bad stuff, and then my parents passed away when I was 12, which meant I ended up in the system.
So, I moved to Blenheim, and went to Marlborough Girls’ there, and that was really good, because that gave me a great foundation for my education and showed that with hard work I could do things that I probably would never have done. Then I met my partner, when I was 16 and we’re married now with three daughters, and he had a very similar background, but we’re still training. I got him to be a good boy, and now all I aspire for is to give my girls everything that I didn’t have growing up.
Right from little, as young as I could remember, drugs were a big thing, and to me, that was my normal. It wasn’t till I got to probably around the age of 10 that I realised, that’s not what everyone’s mum and dad does. By the age of 12 I was put into Oranga Tamariki’s care. So there were a lot of internal fights between my whānau, my immediate whānau and the outside, because of course, they could see what was wrong. But we were very loved. We weren’t unloved children. We were just not your traditional family. Then we moved to Blenheim under care and our parents were coming to see us one day, and they had a car accident. I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t cry. So that changed everything, because it went from being temporary thinking that Mum and Dad would get better. But it wasn’t anymore, but that also helped me change. I had a really great aunty and uncle up there that took me in. Me and my sister were separated, and they really helped make me who I am today. They were very down to earth. They were just amazing people that gave me every opportunity. They just said, you can do it, and that’s what I needed, and I think that’s how today I am who I am.
Stay strong and don’t find excuses, because the only person that can better you is you. So do your best, and do it 100 percent, because opportunities are there that you would never have seen before, unless you put yourself out there, and just give it a go, because in the end, it’s your life, and what you do makes it.
Right now I work at Te Hā, and I am the learning support tutor. So, I work with the correspondence kids on a tikanga program. So, the ones that couldn’t make school here work traditionally at the high school. They don’t just fit into that box. So, I’m here to support them. I am also the youth coach. So, I work with youth services to help the NEETs. So, the children that aren’t in education or training or employment. Then young parents, so parents up to 20 who have babies and also just the youth payment. So, the ones that can’t be at home, for whatever reason. All the things that I was pretty much. I would like to help those kids, just to be happy, just to live their best lives, because we only get one, and there’s no point in staying in the same place, doing nothing and just using this town as the excuse. You can come home, but you can also go and explore, because we’ve got a beautiful country. There’s so many courses now. If you dream it, I think you could do it. Just have faith in yourself. My hopes for my kids, and everyone else’s is that they just live a happy, full life.