NALEYA Ahu loves to work in collaboration with others and, given her line of work, that is just as well.
As Turanga Health's kaiāwhina for emergency housing, she engages with many other people and agencies to help bring about a great outcome, and that's something in which she is very well versed.
Formerly an education kaiwhakahaere with Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou, Naleya was last year seconded to social services hub Manaaki Tairāwhiti to help with its new 50 Families pilot.
As such, she was already working with Turanga Health and in late 2019, she joined the team.
“For most of my work I am in partnership with a Ministry of Social Development (MSD) case officer in making sure that we have great systems in place, and that the whānau narrative is at the centre of everything we do.”
That relationship means that while MSD staff ensure whānau have access to the proper benefits and entitlements, Turanga Health supports them in pastoral and health care.
“We look at things like why someone may be regularly moving out of homes . . . are there other problems – like mental health or family violence – they may need help with? We are there to walk alongside them on their journey.”
And Naleya's job is not easy: emergency housing is a big issue in Tairāwhiti where whānau are often homeless, overcrowded or facing eviction.
“A problem, too, is that compared to many other regions, we have limited options when it comes to transitional housing,” she says. “So that's another challenge we have to overcome.”
The mother of a fast-growing teenage son, Naleya (Tainui, Te Aitanga a Mahaki) has studied psychology and has degrees in both teaching and social work.
However, she says the learning she values most is around effecting change, as well as the five years she spent deep sea fishing to help pay off her student loan.
The fishing, she says, gave her the determination and work ethic she hopes to pass on to her son.
“But it is the work around the 'change environment' that has me thinking the most,” she says. “We need systems, but they can't be systems that are convenient for agencies, they have to be systems that work for whānau all the way.”
AS a young father, Avenir Maurirere took a “whatever it takes” approach to supporting his growing family and that's what he brings to his work life.
As a navigator for Turanga Health, Avenir works with whānau targeted for support under Manaaki Tairāwhiti's 50 Families scheme.
And he knows all about the challenges whānau can face.
Raised in Mangatuna and Kaiti, Avenir and his “soulmate” started their family very young so he had to make the choice between staying at school or going into the workforce . . . the workforce won.
From there the roll-out of challenges continued until, while living and working in Hastings, Avenir and his partner faced multiple deaths in the whānau that brought them back home to Gisborne, and led to some tension in their family unit.
“All sorts of things can have an impact on your life and it is that understanding, that 'lived experience', that I bring to our 50 Families whānau,” he says.
“For my own whānau finding a nice home was a real turning point so I see how just addressing one thing can make a huge difference.”
Housing might be something Avenir (Ngati Iranui, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti/Ngati Porou) talks about with whānau. Or it they might need help to navigate social development systems, justice, education . . . whatever it takes.
“Many whānau have a preconceived idea of what social services means but my approach is just 'this is me, and I'm here to help',” says the proud father of three.
“One of the most rewarding things is that, between us, we can help bring about systemic change in encouraging agencies to help whānau achieve their goals, not get in their way.”
Avenir's unusual name is derived on the French word for “the future”, and he says that's what he's firmly focused on.
“We listen to whānau, we help them work out a plan, and then help them work towards their goals.
“But though everyone is different, the one constant is that our relationships are entirely built on trust. If whānau trust us, they can be open with us, and then the real work can begin.”
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