Huia Mai provides services designed to meet the needs of whānau Māori and all other whānau who seek support from Visionwest. Recently, the team at Huia Mai received this letter of gratitude and appreciation.
My name is Natasha.* I have lived in West Auckland for over 60 years but have never witnessed or experienced the awesome support from an organisation such as Visionwest until recently. I want to share my gratitude story with whoever wants to read it.
I worked as a rest home nurse until Covid hit and, being older myself, I had to consider the potential health risks and think about resigning. About the same time, I was left with the responsibility of looking after my grandchildren. I took this as a sign and left work and retired to care for my grandchildren who came to live with me. They range in age from 7 to 19-years.
It wasn’t easy and my finances were stretched. Someone introduced me to Awhina from Visionwest. They said she may be able to help me to get my mokos school uniforms. I admit that I felt whakama (shame) about asking for help, but she came and made me and my moko feel so at ease. A real feeling of relief came over me as I told her my struggles. She arranged for my mokos to receive what they needed for school, and we were all so grateful.
By halfway through the school year, I was having battles with the eldest two mokos and they weren’t doing well at school. I really didn’t know what to do and even came to a point where I considered sending the children to live elsewhere – of course, I didn’t do that. I knew, for their sakes, that I couldn’t give up.
One day I was desperate. I began scrolling through the numbers on my phone looking for someone I could call for advice. The first name I saw was Awhina from Visionwest. Without really thinking, I called her. She answered, “Kia Ora whaea Natasha.” That was enough to cause me to break down and cry. Awhina said, “Put the jug on. I’m coming over,” and 30 minutes later she was there hugging me and telling me everything was going to be okay.
I shared all my concerns with Awhina. She just smiled and said, “It’s okay. I’ll help you.”
The very next day, she went to the school and talked to them about my moko girl and a plan was put in place. She came to talk to my moko boy, and he opened up to her and a plan was made for him and me to work on things. She visited my moko girl every week at school and at home after school.
My moko girl is back focused on school and enjoying it. My moko boy has found a job and loves working and making honest money. Awhina has continued to show up every Wednesday evening to see us and check in with my mokos. She plays cards with them, does homework, and listens to them read.
The work Awhina has put into my mokos has made our house a real home. I know she comes to us so I can have a break, but she is so humble – she does not expect thanks or praise in return, but I cannot stop myself from saying how grateful I am for her; for her time, love, and mahi, and for the way she has taken my moko under her wing and treated them like her own. I hope Visionwest knows what a gem you have.
Thank you Awhina for everything you do and have done for us, and I hope you know how much you mean to us and for always showing up and being such a great role model for our tamariki.
Aroha tino nui.
*While this letter is real, we have changed Natasha’s name and photo for privacy reasons.
Mātanga Oranga is the culturally informed counselling service run by Huia Mia. To read Tania’s Mātanga Oranga Story, Click here.