I was born and raised in a small country town, the home of the Mighty Northern Wairoa River, Dargaville.  I’m the eldest of 9, Mum to 6 tamariki and 2 mokopuna, with many more to come no doubt.

My story with the RBA started back in 2012 when I was nominated for “The Pathways to the Future Trust” award by my former employer, mentor, and friend, the late Mike Davis, owner of XACT Labels (now UNIMAX Labels Logistics)

There were about nine other aspiring young employees nominated by their local Rosebank and other West Auckland business owners and managers who were recognised for their potential and talents. I received funds for a Creative Writing course that I passed with “Distinction” through the “NZ Writers’ College” and a brand-new computer to do my studies on. I also received a trophy presented by Sir Michael Jones, which I proudly display at my current employment, as a constant reminder of how far I have come.

In 2007, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join her for an early morning shift in a printing factory, to glue boxes together, simple work, but I thought “this is my chance” I’d already been declined employment from local supermarkets due to a lack of education, or anything for that matter, I saw an opportunity and grabbed it.  I continued as a casual, working as a packer at XACT Labels, which I was quite proud of even if I was only earning the minimum wage of $9 an hour back then. I nervously asked for more work and was often told no, but my determination paid off and I eventually got a full-time contract after a year.

This was a massive accomplishment in my eyes. You see, I had just graduated from Odyssey House Rehabilitation Centre and my background wasn’t the greatest. I had no qualifications, dropped out of school, had no car, and lived in a little two-bedroom flat with my two older kids who were 7 and 5 at the time. I’d never caught a bus, let alone had the money for a bus fare. I would walk my kids to school in New Windsor, run the 6km distance to work, then run back to pick my kids up before the bell rang. I dared not let my boss and manager know much about myself, for fear of being asked questions and being rejected or losing my job, so I felt I had no other choice but to work hard and made no excuses.

I remained in the same workplace for 14 years, learning the ins and outs of the business, and working my way up in the company until it became second nature. I had challenged myself as far as I could and it was time for something new, something more fulfilling.

In 2020, I began my qualification in Mental Health and Addictions level 4, a huge challenge, and many sacrifices were made, such as losing time with my children. I kept working full time and would head to night class in Royal Oak until 9:00 pm, (sometimes later) three nights a week.  There was no other option but to complete my practicum hours on the weekends at Auckland City Mission and Odyssey House. Most of my time at home was spent studying and doing 21 assessments until the early hours of the morning, don’t ask me how, but I did it. My older children were my biggest support during this time, and I could not have done this without them.

Today, I work at The Walsh Trust, a non-profit community Mental Health service, situated in Henderson where I started as a Wellbeing Facilitator LXP (Lived Experience Practitioner) in 2021 and as of December 2022, I applied for and was offered a role on our Employment team, supporting others into employment, who may be on a similar journey to mine.

Receiving my award from PTTF, not only did it help me see my own value it was a stepping stone to higher education. Together with my qualification in Mental Health and Addictions, I had previously obtained my Level 3 Certificate in Business Management – Intro to Leadership, as well as my Level 4 Certificate in Te Reo Maori.

Every day I look for opportunities to educate and improve myself, in the hopes that it may help and inspire, even just one person, and be a role model to my children and mokopuna.

If I can I’d like to make a special tribute to the Davis family, and especially to Mike Davis, who kept in contact with me for all those years. Sadly, Mike passed away in 2020. Thank you for everything, Mike.

The biggest impact has been as a young recipient of The Pathways to the Future Trust Award way back when, as it gave me hope, and hope is something you can give to others. That I will always be grateful for.

Kia ora.