Rex | Whangārei, Northland

“Before I moved to Whangārei, I travelled around most of the country, and I was a bad fella, dumb, young and had big ideas, but it didn’t work. Then, I ended up working for Auckland City Mission for a couple of years, which made me feel, made me think. I used to take things, instead of giving.

When I joined the City Mission in Auckland, I came back home to Whangārei and I joined these fellas, Open Arms, 155 Food Rescue, and I work for Food Rescue under the umbrella of 155, and I feel real proud, and it gives me a good feeling to give to people that are in need, because I was there on the streets once upon a time, and it’s rough out there. To have a place where they can come and have a meal, food parcel, and they walk away with a smile. Listen to their yarns, their ups and downs, and give them advice, this is a place where we can help them, and just listen to them, because they’ve got stories that a lot of people don’t know about. Since I’ve been with Open Arms, Food Rescue, it makes you appreciate what you’ve got, and makes you think and feel for the people that haven’t got anything on the streets, under bridges, in bushes sleeping, and now they’re getting accommodation.

Well, when I started having children, it sort of woke me up. I’ve got responsibilities and they’re starting to look up at me and take note of what I say, so I’ve got to be an example for my children and my grandchildren and my grand-moko. Teach them the right way, the good way, and to help. Nothing’s more of a good feeling than helping people. It’s all about people, not yourself. When I first held my daughter, my eldest first child, it was just an experience you’ve got to experience yourself. There’s nothing like holding your own, which you’ve made with your partner, and then the rest, and then it just wakes you up. Makes you grow up fast, because everything reflects from me to my children to my grandchildren. So, I’ve got to start doing it right, and that’s a real proud moment to flip your life over for the good, and it helps me at this job where I am now, to help people instead of take, take, take. Give, give, give now. FTW, Feed the Whānau. 

I grew up in Taumatamakuku. I’m from the Hokianga, Motukaraka. My dad moved to Moerewa. We all ended up working at the AFFCO. My dad had a shop. My dad and mum had a fish and chip shop and a dairy. So, I sort of learned from my parents, and my parents, they guided me the right way. Got me off the hard track and what they taught me, I’m relating back to the homeless. I’ve learned through my dad that you don’t leave a fella in the gutter. You pick him up, clean him up, feed him and then ask him what’s up? A person nice and clean and fed has got a lot to say.”

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