For the first time in my life, I can think about the future. The first thing I want to do is help rescue my whānau from carrying the same weight I was carrying when I first came in here. They can see how I’ve changed, and it is both challenging and inspiring for them. After all, if I can do it, anyone can.
Tania* could see her Visionwest Housing Support Navigator was nervous when he suggested she go and see Faye at Mātanga Oranga. He was obviously expecting a refusal, but Tania never hesitated.
I knew I needed help and I accepted it because I wanted to change. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life!
A recommendation to go to Mātanga Oranga
Tania* came to Visionwest through our Community Housing service. As part of the wraparound support she received, a Visionwest Support Navigator would call on her regularly to korero and check if she had any needs.
My Support Navigator was there to support me in my housing. One day he said, ‘It’s great that you’re doing so well in so many aspects of your life, it’s just your mental wellbeing that is not so great.’ That’s when he recommended I go to see Faye [the Mātanga Oranga Whānau specialist at Visionwest’s Māori-informed counselling team]. I jumped at the chance because I knew I needed to talk to someone. I had nothing to lose so I went for it.
Like many people during Covid, Tania’s first sessions with Faye were on the phone and she was sceptical at first.
Faye would ask questions and then listen patiently to my answers. Occasionally she would say things that made me roll my eyes. I thought, ‘Wow, she actually gets paid to tell me this? She doesn’t really understand.’ But then, I phoned some friends who I know in the counselling field. I told them what Faye had said and asked if it sounded right to them and they all said, ‘Yep.’ That caused me to ask for a second appointment but this time I wanted to meet via video call so I could see her face.
When I saw Faye, I was so surprised. I was expecting a Pakeha lady with blond hair reading me stuff out of a textbook but here was this lady who I thought I could really relate to. She was wearing a greenstone which made her more relatable for me. And she was older than I expected which made me respect and trust what she said a little bit more.
Looking back on her time at Mātanga Oranga, Tania admits it wasn’t all easy; Faye told her a few truths that were hard to hear and there were even times when Tania responded by calling Faye names and walking out of the sessions. There were other sessions that Tania didn’t bother turning up for at all because she was upset with Faye… then she quickly adds, “Faye saved my life.”
Faye and Mātanga Oranga saved my life
What I love about Mātanga Oranga is Faye’s authenticity. Every time we talked it was real talk. We were on a journey together. Sometimes she got upset with me and sometimes she challenged me, but she was always honest with me, and she did everything with aroha. Whatever she said, I could see that she really had my best interests at heart.
Our relationship just grew off that so that now I love her. I adore her mahi and I’d do anything to help someone to experience the same growth I have. This part of Visionwest has been the reason I am the person I am today.”
When Tania compares the way she is now to how she used to be she admits that a lot has changed. She recognises that past trauma in her life often caused her to treat others poorly and this affected her relationships.
The most powerful thing I’ve learned is to maintain respect for myself and others, and to make forgiveness a part of my character. Faye helped me to understand the benefit of, and the power of, forgiveness. Not just for the other person’s benefit but for MY benefit.
Tania reflects back on how her journey with Visionwest began with housing. She is quick to tell people that she wasn’t just given a house and left to it. She was given a home that came with a promise – a promise that Visionwest would be there to support her until she was strong enough to “stand firm on my own.”
Having a home and my time with Faye and Mātanga Oranga has made my whole life better. I have a home, but I’m also a better mother, daughter, sister, friend – all because of what Faye has done. She’s given me tools to carry me through life’s tougher times. I’ve learned to value the little things I can accomplish rather than being bothered about the big things I may have missed out on.
For the first time in my life, I can think about the future. The first thing I want to do is help rescue my whānau from carrying the same weight I carried when I first came in here. They can see how I’ve changed, and it is both challenging and inspiring for them. After all, if I can do it, anyone can.
Tania also wants to do something that will have an impact on Māori youth because she recognises that, without our young people, there is no tomorrow.
One of the things that I respect most about Faye is that she is interested in every aspect of my life – not just me as an individual, she wants to help all my whānau. That means so much to me that she cares for my whānau as well as caring for me.
Going to see Faye is a decision that changed my life. In just eight months, she supported me to turn my life around. If you knew me before, you would not recognise me today. I wanted to make a break from the past and Faye worked the scissors to enabled me to make that break.
We need more services like this. It can make a huge difference to whānau across Tāmaki Makarau especially Māori and Pasifika peoples.
Mātanga Oranga is a service of Huia Mai, Visionwest’s kaupapa response to the needs of Māori in our community.
Click here to find out more about Huia Mai and Mātanga Oranga.