Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

The first thing you no­tice about Makerita Makapelu is her pos­i­tiv­ity.

Con­sid­er­ing all that she’s been through, her ra­di­ance is all the more re­mark­able.

The el­dest daugh­ter of Samoan mi­grants, she went through dif­fi­cult and re­bel­lious teenage years, see­ing her way through a bare min­i­mum of school and be­ing caught up in a party life­style, fu­elled in part by a fam­ily tragedy.

But it was con­tacts from those par­ty­ing days that pro­vided the first op­por­tu­nity for Makerita to re­take con­trol of her life. One early morn­ing she found her­self catch­ing a ride home with a per­son who en­cour­aged her to join his drama group – a group of peo­ple pas­sion­ate about us­ing theatre as ther­apy.

Makerita’s story was one of two that the group trans­lated into a play that toured New Zealand sev­eral times and be­came the sub­ject of a doc­u­men­tary.

From her first mo­ment on stage, Makerita says she ‘‘knew she had come home’’.

The trans­for­ma­tion oc­cur­ring in her life en­abled her to re-look at what she wanted for her fu­ture, but af­ter many years of liv­ing from day to day, mov­ing from house to house, with no plans for the fu­ture pre­sented some sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles.

The stress and iso­la­tion of her fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion had taken on a life of its own and her credit rat­ing suf­fered.

Makerita turned her en­ergy to­wards in­vest­ing in her fam­ily’s fu­ture.

She wanted a fu­ture for her chil­dren that in­cluded not bring­ing them up in a state house and en­sur­ing they could live the dream her par­ents had come to Aotearoa with.

This meant a stop to the par­ty­ing and start­ing to save. It meant train­ing for higher paid jobs and chang­ing life­styles in­clud­ing plan­ning meals and grow­ing the fam­ily’s veges.

‘‘We lived on a street where ev­ery­one knew each other and we made our own fun,’’ she re­calls.

‘‘There were mini dis­cos for the kids and ev­ery­one paid a dol­lar for a hot dog and drink.’’

A ma­jor step was the de­ci­sion to buy a house for the whole fam­ily, in­clud­ing her par­ents.

It had the ma­jor ben­e­fits of shar­ing re­sources and in­vest­ing in the fu­ture but was also a huge chal­lenge be­cause years of not pay­ing bills on time and de­fault­ing on hire pur­chases had given her a poor credit rat­ing.

With a lot of hard work and dili­gence mak­ing hefty loan re­pay­ments on the house, their credit rat­ing has im­proved to the ex­tent the fam­ily now has more op­tions for a mort­gage.

But what has kept Makerita strong is her knowl­edge that she can sur­vive. And she has.

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