Pam | Kaitāia, Northland

“I’ve spent two years in Christchurch. I’ve just got to wipe my eyes a bit, because it’s a bit emotional. I grew up in a really kind environment and my mum and dad were very kind to me as I grew up, and so I looked after about 60 kids through my adult life, because I had such a good upbringing and I showed them all about kindness, and how life can work doing good to one another, doing good to someone and it comes back to you. I’m a pretty friendly person. I like being kind to people because it makes you feel good.

I grew up on a dairy farm out at Fairburn. I was born and bred there, and I have good memories of being there. We had family dances in the Fairburn hall, and we were a very close community and we shifted off the farm when I was 16, and I left school and went down to Christchurch, and it was a big thing for me, because I was brought up on a farm, so I wasn’t really exposed to lots of people, and so I got on well with people that I worked with, and then went out flatting, and I spent two years down in Christchurch and came back and got a job at the Kaitāia Pub as a waitress, and from then on, I sort of grew to be a very independent person. I’ve always had a job. I have five children. I had a bit of a rough time with one of my relationships, and broke up with him and virtually brought my kids up on my own. I had a special needs boy, my oldest son, and my mum and dad looked after him, because it got too much for me, because I had four other children on my own, and they did really well. My kids have all got jobs. They’ve done well in life and they always think that’s because I put 100 percent into their life. After a while I went and did some CYPS work and I’ve brought up about 60 children through my house, and my kids grew up with them, and learned what it’s like to actually have a bit of a rough life, and so they cared and shared their life with me, and my family and my house, and I still look after special needs children.

There was this young boy that was in my daughter’s class, and he was six, and he came to live with me, and he stood beside me one night, and I opened my pantry, and he says, ‘man Aunty you’ve got hundreds of food, I want to live with you forever’. And my son actually gave him some pyjamas, and he did a morning talk at the school, and he said to them at school, ‘man one of the boys that I live with gave me these pyjamas and I wore them, and I had the most best sleep ever’. And, those sorts of things stick with me, because I think that just one little thing in their life can spark them off of being happy. There was another boy I had, and he used to say to me every day when he came to live with me, ‘do you love me Pam Fishler?’  And, he couldn’t say Fisher, so he called me Fishler, and I said, ‘yes I do.’ And, he said it about 20 times a day, and then each day it got less and less, because he knew that I actually loved him. So, that just really touched me, because all you need to do is have that love for kids, and people.

We’re all one in society, and if we love one another and care for one another, it’s such a big thing in our world. It’s just proved to me, like with Covid-19, how we were isolated from our family, and how important it is to care about one another, because you never know what’s going to happen around the corner. You could be here one day, and gone the next, and if you aren’t kind to one another, then you leave quite a lot of bitterness behind.”

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