Name: Tere Jodean Tuta’i

Age: 28

City/town: Henderson, West Auckland

What’s your job? I’m a kaiārahi for Te Waipareira Trust. Kaiārahi means to pathway someone, to be their social navigator.

How did you get into this line of work? I’ve worked lots of different jobs. I was a youth worker, worked at Coca Cola, and at a call centre before I was offered this role.

What does a typical working day look like for you? It can be anything from going to WINZ with whānau – we don’t call our people clients, we call them whānau – to sort their entitlements, or helping our whānau with Oranga Tamariki to help them go to programmes they need to attend to get their children back.

It can be getting whānau into emergency housing and getting someone financially stable. Helping people navigate the system, support them in the court, access legal aid and if they need to go to programmes like anger management and budgeting.

What qualifications or training did you need? Before this I was supporting ACC clients to get back into work. As a kaiārahi you don’t need a qualification.

What are the best bits about the job? When our whānau learn to navigate themselves when they no longer need us. They may not have reached their goal that they wanted, but they’ve learnt enough and know the system enough that they can find their own way.

It’s when whānau who have been homeless get keys to a privately owned rental or to a Housing NZ home, or when Oranga Tamariki closes the file because the whānau have worked so hard to get off their books. Those are good moments.

What are the worst bits? When all the support is there for a whānau and they don’t take it. When they have strong whānau support to help them change their attitudes and behaviour and they don’t take it. To me it’s quite sad and disheartening. And dealing with really heavy issues like abuse and homelessness.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you most likely be doing? I’m a musician so one day I’d like to be doing that.


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