Central Leader - - NEWS -

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,’’ she says.

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