June 2016: This was the case for Aquatania, a Tūhourangi, Ngāti Wahiao rangatahi living who found herself pulled between two countries.
Aquatania, 16, had moved to Australia to live with relatives in November of last year. What began as an exciting new adventure quickly turned into a lonely and unhappy existence.
Aqua found herself alone in a new city and began hanging out with the wrong crowd, as a result she began getting in trouble which caused a great deal of conflict with the whānau she was staying with.
Despite the conflict, Aquatania knew the importance of school and had enrolled herself into a local high school in Australia and had everything she needed to make a new start.
Sadly, at the end of January this year, Aqua’s great great grandmother passed so she returned to Rotorua to attend her kuia's tangihana with the plan of returning back to Australia to continue her schooling.
Unfortunately, Aqua's return to Australia did not go as planned leaving her in Rotorua with only a school bag of personal items and the clothes on her back. Her primary concern turned to where or who she would live with, what she would do about her education, and simply how she would survive.
Thankfully Aqua found love, warmth and comfort with her Nanny Whariki and Auntie Laurelle in their home at Whakarewarewa. Moving forward and navigating life's new challenges was her next goal.
With the support of her Nanny and Auntie, Aqua was introduced to Te Arawa Whānau Ora, who together with whānau began working with Aqua to create a plan that she could work towards and achieve the goals she had set for herself.
First on her list was making sure she had access to a good education. Aquatania registered herself at a local high school and began walking 2.3kms each day.
Aqua understands the opportunities that education brings, so to make sure she didn't miss anything, she borrowed a uniform from a cousin so she could begin going to school.
My dream is to study law and I'm planning to go to University in 2017, so I knew to make that happen, I needed to be starting school right away" explains Aqua.
Getting a driver's licence was also an important goal. She hopes to have her restricted before finishing high school, which means she if she is to be able to legally drive when she begins studying law at the University of Auckland, she needs to get it now.
Finally an important whānau goal that focused on reconnecting Aqua back with her whānau.
Since completing her plan, Aqua has had success after success. She now has everything she needs to attend high school, she has gained her learner's license, walking to school keeps her fit and healthy and she is working with Te Papa Tākaro to continue to stay active.
To reconnect Aqua to her whānau, she is regularly involved in Iwi gatherings, and most recently helped ushering at the Te Arawa Kapahaka Regionals. She helps prepare kai for their own kapa haka group, and attends wānanga to build her understanding of tikanga and kawa as well as to gain a greater connection through whanaungatanga me manaakitanga.
It's be so awesome to work with Te Arawa Whānau Ora, they have helped me to prepare better for my future, and it makes me feel like I can do anything!"
We do too Aqua, kia kaha, kia manawanui! You are making us proud already!
Why Te Arawa Whānau Ora Works
Te Arawa Whānau Ora has been successful because it ensures whānau are able to determine their own goals and are given positive support to achieve them. Te Arawa Whānau Ora will work with groups, whānau and individuals to support them to become successful.
Te Arawa Whānau Ora works because it puts whānau in the driver’s seat, they define their own goals and make their own decisions. Te Arawa Whānau Ora has helped over 1500 individual whānau members over the last year. If you would like to know more please contact us.