of five women recognised for their work in the Pacific community.
‘‘Someone has to do it,’’ she says. ‘‘People ask me when I’m going to slow down but I love it – there’s no expectations, I just like what I do.’’
The mother-of-seven left Niue for New Zealand in 1975.
It was while living in Ponsonby in the late 1980s that she started to see patterns of family violence within Pacific communities.
She co-founded New Zealand’s first Pacific Island Women’s Refuge to help the women and children affected by family violence and served as coordinator when it opened in 1990.
The son of one of the women Erick helped all those years ago got in touch after her name appeared on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
‘‘He said: ‘ you deserve it. I still remember how you helped me and my mum at the women’s refuge and we never had a chance to say thank you for what you did for us’,’’ she says.
‘‘That’s still some of the work that I’m really proud of – we were all just volunteers but we wanted to help.’’
It meant using her own car to pick up the women and take them to the shelter.
The food and resources she brings to the parenting classes are funded out of her own pocket.
Seeing the positive effects of her work is payment enough, she says.
The Incredible Years’ programme, based at Glen Innes School, is targeted at Pacific parents, grandparents and caregivers of children aged 3 to 10 years.
‘‘This programme is helping parents to build relationships with their children, building up their children’s sense of belonging and self-worth,’’ she says.
‘‘They learn how to value their children and how to build relationships – many people notice their relationship with their partners also improves.’’
People were skeptical about whether the parenting class would work for Pacific people, she says.
‘‘But halfway through the programme you can see them blossom. One of the parent’s sons said to his mum: ‘you’re a better mum now. I notice you’re not yelling anymore and you talk with me not talk at me’.’’
Erick says this is the legacy she wants to leave behind. ‘‘A legacy of happy families. ‘‘These parents are paving the way for good relationships and a strong sense of belonging for generations to come.’’