HUMANS OF KAITAIA Decide how much you want change
I’ve been surrounded by kids all my life. I love kids.
I came from a big family growing up, and was raised by a solo mum on the DPB, who was separated from my dad. When my older siblings moved out, that left six of us at home. I helped my mum bring up my little brothers, then helped look after my siblings’ kids.
My work at that time was in radio and television, but knew I needed more than that. I helped at Pukemiro and at ko¯hanga reo, and found out I had a natural ability to grow children and send them in the right direction. I had five children, was working, studying Ma¯ori performing arts and I didn’t want to move towns — but I wanted to study teaching. Then the Ma¯ori Medium Scholarship became available through TeachNZ and Te Whare Wa¯nanga o Awanuia¯rangi opened a campus in Whangarei. It was a tohu, a sign, I was going in the right direction. So I finished the three-year teaching degree, while juggling all my other roles.
When I was at school my teacher, Mr Tini, said to me, “You should be a teacher.” I told him I didn’t want to teach someone like me! During that time I was in the dean’s office for all the wrong reasons. My best friend can’t believe I’m a dean now.
My biggest achievement is seeing tamariki with no direction see that they can do something better. I love listening to the kids practise in the whare. It makes it all worth it.
My mum told me I could have more, she taught me my life lessons. She saw there was something to make me push further. I was determined, I didn’t want to have the same life that my family had. I wanted more. It doesn’t matter what your background is or where you’re from, it’s about how hard you want it.