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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