However, not one to dwell on the negative, Gwenyth has picked herself up and is even more determined to build a financially secure future for her family.
She’d been working closely with paeārahi, Paulla Whatiura (right), who helped her develop a Whānau Ora plan. She’d struggled to make ends meet money-wise, which contributed to stress in the family, and she was keen to change her circumstances. “I’ve always had casual work, but I was looking for something fulltime. I’ve been a worker all my life and had to make my finances work. Paulla’s been great because I needed someone to help me move forward.
“I was picking myself up, being positive, looking for a fulltime job – and then I found one. I filled in all the papers but forgot I’d been a little criminal. So, when it asked if I had any convictions, I answered ‘no’.” Gwenyth started work on a Friday and was instantly dismissed the following Thursday. She incorrectly thought her convictions were over seven years old, making her eligible for the police Clean Slate scheme. Having already started the process at WINZ for bridging finance, Gwenyth had prepared herself for fulltime employment. She returned to work the next day hoping to set the record straight.
“I’d actually forgotten I’d had a conviction – I just work hard all the time. I went back to the job and asked if they could put it in writing why I was being dismissed. The team manager said if it was up to her, she would’ve kept me. But the boss and CEO wouldn’t allow it.
“I said, ‘I hope the boss has a good dream this weekend and when she wakes up, gives me a tinkle, and says, ‘don’t worry about it Gwen, come back to work’. But no, that didn’t happen.
“So now I’m back to reading employment agency ads and will take it from there. Paulla’s been helping me all the way and has great advice. She’s been like a kaitiaki. It’s all about me and what I need to do to make it work for myself. I’ve just had a little knock-back, but I try not to get depressed.”
The pair inquired about the police vetting and discovered Gwenyth’s conviction won’t be concealed until later this year. In the meantime, she’s applying for jobs in the hope someone will recognise her determination and desire to work.
“Paulla’s always in my corner. I’m back in her office again and we’re going online to look for more job opportunities. I’ve already put in a number of applications for work in Whakatane. She’s spoken to my family at home and if they need any help, they know they can come and speak with her. She’s knowledgeable on what’s going on in the community and the things we can access.
“It’s all about the whānau achieving things for themselves. It’s up to the family members to take a deep breath and move forward. Whānau Ora is here to help us. You don’t need to be whakamā.”