Pact’s Greymouth Community Support Worker James Tainui helps to support people to lead fulfilling lives in the community.

“We’re a group trying to help people find themselves, find that inner joy and live better lives. Pact has a great philosophy – we walk beside people, supporting them to do things for themselves,” says James, pictured left.

Careerforce-supported apprentice James is concerned that people often do not know where to go to find help.

“I have seen a lot of people get mistreated, and be told one thing by one person, and told another thing by another.

“This isn’t right – It isn’t OK. These people need someone who knows the system, knows their rights.”

Pact supports people with a variety of needs, such as people recovering from mental illness, having a physical or intellectual disability, or overcoming an alcohol and other drug or gambling addiction.

In his role, James supports these people. He enjoys the little victories along the way. “Yesterday we took two steps, but today we’ll take three. You see people change and grow and you see their mana enhance. That’s what inspires me. Instilling that belief in people.

“You give them back their will to want to get out of bed and to live their life. I let them know they are equals and this world belongs to them as much as anybody else.

“I had my own journey. Someone believed in me once, so I thought I can give that back.”

James was not much of an academic at school. His mum used to say that he went to school to eat his lunch. But all that changed when he started working at Pact. The organisation has a real focus on training and has had a relationship with industry training organisation, Careerforce for many years.

James put his hand up for the Level 4 Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction programme. Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Eric Kneepkens, helped to inspire and encourage James in the early days and ignite that love of learning and gaining knowledge.

“I came from a schooling system, as a young Māori male, where I felt they wanted me to fail, whereas Careerforce really wanted me to succeed and strive through it and be better for it.”

The workplace-based apprenticeship was all about getting to know yourself and self-reflection, he says. Once the Level 4 apprenticeship was finished, James jumped at the opportunity to enrol in the New Zealand Diploma in Health and Wellbeing Level 5.

“I learnt to use ‘reflective practice’ quite a lot at Level 4, but the Level 5 programme took that to another level, and I learnt a lot more about critical thinking.

“I’m always challenging what I’m doing. The Level 5 programme asked me about the times I got it wrong. It’s really good to look back and humble yourself and say ‘I didn’t always get it right’.”

With Careerforce-supported programmes, trainees gain relevant, practical qualifications in a workplace-based learning environment they feel comfortable in. James felt that he would really have struggled in a classroom.

“I enjoyed the applied part of the training where it’s work experience. One of the really great aspects about the Level 5 is the kōrero at the end [of the modules] where you can further expand what you want to say.”

James only started using a computer in this current role. Getting his thoughts and ideas down on the computer could be a struggle, so the kōrero is really awesome, he says.

Joanna Martino is a Senior Health and Wellbeing Assessor at Careerforce.

“Joanna’s been great. She’s always given a little bit of guidance if I’ve been stuck. She never gives it away, but always makes sure my waka is on the right path!”

“The Diploma programme has been great – I’ve really enjoyed it. Careerforce made it easy, it’s pretty seamless, the Aka Toi online learning site is easy to access, and nothing seems to be a problem.

“I came from a schooling system, as a young Māori male, where I felt they wanted me to fail, whereas Careerforce really wanted me to succeed and strive through it and be better for it.

“I thank Careerforce for the journey. They’ve made me what I am today. It took me a long time – 37 years. I don’t mind the guy that looks back in the mirror now!”

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