May 2017: Paeārahi Shona Charteris said she noticed ‘Koro’ outside their office window and asked if they could support him in anyway.
The 65-year-old had been living in the Government Gardens and had not received an income since 2009.
“He shared his story with me. He had previous gang affiliations and was a shearer but whatever the circumstances, he just went down and wasn’t really standing back up strong anymore,” Shona says
“He was picking up [cigarette] butts, picking up food. The homeless share, that’s what his kōrero was to me.”
With no identification, no address and no bank account it was a challenge for Koro to access any social welfare assistance. But with perseverance and support from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao, he was able to be added into the system.
“He had no income at all. All of this happened in one day. This isn’t over months, this was emergency everything,” Shona says.
“We had to go to the bank. I took him to Work and Income, they said he needed ID. I had to take him to the courts to get a statutory declaration and then back to Work and Income.
“While we were sitting in there he noticed his niece. I approached her and said, ‘Koro needs a home urgently, Koro needs a bank account urgently’. Everything was urgent.”
His niece opened her doors for her whanaunga.
“It’s spreading the wraparound service to the extended whānau in other homes. With the niece, she has tamariki so we could help her out with some clothes, toaster and things like that,” Shona says.
“The big picture is to get Koro his own independence and get a Council home. It was such a big, big day and a couple of days of really hard work but great achievement to be able to find him a home.
“It’s connecting him and his whānau. I love it, this is what social work and whānau ora is all about. It’s about enabling and empowerment.”