Whanau Ora – providing genuine support
When Maluhola Tu’atonga and her family moved to Hamilton from Wellington in July 2014, she and her husband arrived without employment and with two young daughters to care for.
They were staying in a cold garage when staff from K’aute Pasifika Trust in Hamilton, part of the Aere Tai Pacific Midland Collective, heard about their plight through their extensive Pacific networks.
Thanks to their Whanau Ora contract with Pasifika Futures, K’aute Pasifika was able to assist in a way they’ve never been able to before.
Staff member Moliame Moala says their first priority was to move the family out of the garage and into a proper home. While it was far better than their previous dwellings, it was still too cold.
“So we ended up getting a good heater,” says Moliame.
The father found employment, the oldest daughter Ana (age six) was enrolled for school while younger daughter Angelina (age three) was referred to an ECE (Early Childhood Education) Centre, which enabled her to attend a Tongan Playgroup (the family is from Malapo in Tongatapu), at no cost.
The children also receive monthly health visits, and expenses such as school uniforms and shoes are covered.
For Aere Tai CEO Leaupepe Peta Karalus, what Whanau Ora is able to offer is “ground breaking”.
“Because we’re really able to get a deeper understanding of what their needs are, we’re discovering that these families are not poor victims destined to always be struggling,” she says.
“There is genuine enthusiasm and a willingness to overcome their situation and achieve their aspirations.”
Whanau Ora allows Aere Tai providers to offer practical assistance such as covering costs for essentials. When it was launched there were initial concerns that families had to divulge too much information in order to gain assistance. But Peta says the families have been genuinely open knowing the assistance they receive is tangible in enabling them to be on the path to recovery.
“What I like about Whanau Ora is that it’s not solely problem focused,” says Peta.
“It’s about asking ‘what do we need to do to get where we want to be?’ It’s taking our services to the next level across the entire Aere Tai Collective.”
For Maluhola Tu’atonga, she is eternally thankful.
“Because of the help we have received, we want to make Hamilton our home and make a contribution to those who have helped us. Malo ‘aupito (thank you).”