Sup­ported home turns teens to par­ents

The Napier Mail - - OUT & ABOUT - ME­GAN HUNT

Bring­ing a new baby home from the hos­pi­tal is ter­ri­fy­ing for most first-time par­ents, but even more daunt­ing for teen par­ents.

In 2010 Te Tai­whenua o Here­taunga recog­nised a need for young moth­ers and ba­bies to live in a sup­ported en­vi­ron­ment and opened Te Whare Karamu the fol­low­ing year.

It’s a sim­ple weath­er­board house, on a quiet cor­ner sec­tion with space for up to four moth­ers and their ba­bies.

The home has two house par­ents, Nani Hun­gahunga and Helen Fo­lasa-Crich­ton who take 31⁄ day shifts to en­sure some­one is al­ways there.

Hun­gahunga said it was an ex­tremely sat­is­fy­ing role.

‘‘Some girls come in with nextto-no skills, [they] don’t know how to cook, clean or pack a bag for their baby.’’

But over the six to nine months the moth­ers com­pleted an in­ten­sive par­ent­ing pro­gramme.

They learned to care for a child, cook, clean, bud­get, save, re­turn to ed­u­ca­tion and col­lect items to fill their own homes when they leave.

‘‘We have had some mums achieve so much from here,’’ Hun­gahunga said.

‘‘It’s awe­some to see how far they have gone - to see them liv­ing in their own homes and be suc- cess­ful at busi­ness and work.

‘‘It’s them be­liev­ing in what they are ca­pa­ble of and us pro­vid­ing the re­sources.’’

Over the years dif­fer­ent sets of house par­ents had shared the role, each pair putting their own stamp on it and fine-tun­ing it.

‘‘But it’s not like a 9 to 5 [so­cial work] job where you are see­ing clients once a week, we are shar­ing part of their life with them, we are on that jour­ney with them.’’

Fo­lasa-Crich­ton said the role had its mo­ments but they both re­ally en­joyed it.

‘‘It’s like hav­ing your own teenagers at home, but you al­ways have to be pro­fes­sional.’’

She said the home was very well sup­ported by the com­mu­nity and peo­ple reg­u­larly dropped in do­na­tions for the moth­ers.

Hun­gahunga and her work in the home will be cel­e­brated this Satur­day at an In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day break­fast hosted by Hawke’s Bay’s Zonta Club.

The club will also recog­nise Geral­dine Travers, Hast­ings Dis­trict coun­cil­lor and Hast­ings Girls’ High School prin­ci­pal.

Tick­ets to the March 11 event at Hast­ings St John’s Pres­by­te­rian Church are $25.


House par­ents Nani Hun­gahunga, left, and Helen Fo­lasa-Crich­ton with new mother Monique Da­ley and her baby Max­ine.

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