Shawnee | Johnsonville, Wellington

“I just received a phone call saying that my brother is in rehab. He has been down a really bad track all his life. I’m actually helping care for his son.

He has two other kids not in his care as well. He’s been in and out of jail. So, for me, a proud moment was definitely hearing that he’s trying to make a change, and actually taking that step forward in addressing his habits, especially for his kids, that definitely made me proud.

It’s having that whānau support, being there for my brother, even though he has done a lot of bad things, I’m always going to be there for him, and support him in whatever he is doing, and even if that is looking after his kid, his baby till he’s able to, then I’ll do that.

So I grew up in Wellington. I’m also a young mum. I had a child at the age of 17. She’s eight this year. She’s been my drive. She’s been my drive in life. I wasn’t really in good shape when I was young. I was on the streets, just running away from home doing things I shouldn’t be doing. I fell pregnant, and as soon as I had my daughter, just seeing her made me wake up and just do something with my life. I don’t want my daughter to be like me. I don’t want to be running around on the streets looking for her. So just being a good role model, I guess.

My daughter makes me proud every day, even when I’m sad. No matter what she does, she makes me proud, she makes me happy, she’s the light of my life. What I’m proud of is that I’ve put her into kōhanga, and she’s been in kura since she’s been alive, and I’ve just surrounded her with te reo Māori, because that was something I didn’t have. I was brought up in a pākehā school. My cousins were speaking te reo and I didn’t understand them. She encourages everyone to speak te reo. She’ll correct people. She helps you with pronunciations, if she notices you pronounce something wrong. She’ll come and tell you. So, you know, just little things like that definitely makes me proud of being a mum and, especially being her mum.

For mahi I actually do work within the community, there’s too many people who are too shy to tell their stories. They think people are going to judge them, it’s like they’ve got to be on a high horse and no-one’s got to know that they’re down. But when their stories aren’t getting out, nothing’s changing, and they don’t realise that many other people might be feeling this way as well. So it’s kind of getting them to know that they’re not alone. People aren’t alone when they’re struggling. Heaps of people are struggling, and we’re just here to support them.

Being a young mum, I was lucky because my grandmother is a Tāmariki Ora nurse. My aunty is a nurse, and I lived with them. So my nan helped me and she gave me all the knowledge I needed to raise a baby. So, I was thankful, but then I went working in the community and there were heaps of mums that didn’t have that, that person there that could help them, or just educate them on how to care for a baby, because they might do something wrong, and then that’s when CYFS get involved, but they actually didn’t know that was wrong. It’s knowing and encouraging them about the development of babies and it’s the loving and caring that babies need.”

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