This place is commonly shortened to Hokianga. I was born in a little area in the south of Hokianga called Whirinaki. I lived with many of my extended family including aunties, uncles and about 40 of my 60 first cousins.
“What a large family!” Some people would say but this was very normal for me as it was all I had ever known.
My family is spread over two main properties; we call them Up Home and Down Home. I spent the first four years of my life Down Home, a valley surrounded by mountains.
The land was and still is used to grow organic gardens and to raise animals for working. The Whirinaki River runs through the valley as a source life and growth for all the families who live there.
It wasn’t until a few years after my immediate family moved to Auckland that some of my Aunties and Uncles decided to join the Catholic Worker Movement.
The philosophy of the Catholic Worker Movement is to “live a simple lifestyle in community, serve the poor, and resist war and social injustice.” Although I have never been directly involved in this movement, it has played a significant role in my formation as a teenager and now as a junior Youth Worker.
Two years ago I decided that I wanted to give my life to the service of young people. What better way to do this than to become a Youth Worker! I am currently studying Youth and Community Studies with Praxis. As part of my study, I work part time at Logos as a team member that helps with the delivering of programmes.
My passion for this kind of work has definitely come from the values I was brought up with in the Hokianga.
One of these is to serve others and have the humility to be served by others. I feel that Youth Work ticks both these boxes for me, as I serve in the hope that I am making a positive difference in the lives of young people and in return I learn so much from them.
It has only been three months since I started practicing as a Youth Worker, and I have already learnt so much about myself and the way I operate within a team.
These have been significant moments for me as I realised that I don’t have to be exactly like the other Youth Workers around me, in fact I am learning to embrace my differences and use them in a way to positively influence young people.
My hope for this year is that I will continue to learn and understand my gifts and talents so I will be like the Whirinaki River, a source of life and growth to others.