Chris – Tamaki

“A recent meal I shared was with my grand-daughters. I’ve got two grand-daughters; eight and four. It was breakfast. They normally have cornflakes and toast. I prefer to sit down with them while they’re having their breakfast and we can have our morning conversations then.

So I encourage parents as well as myself to sit down and eat breakfast with their kids. I believe in using a kitchen table as a tool to build families, and family relationships. So they’re my grandkids. My daughters don’t do that sort of yet stuff. They’re still working at the process of having meals with the kids, but every time the kids are sitting down eating, I try to sit down at that table, even if I’m not eating, myself.

I manage a social service in Glen Innes called the Glen Innes Family Centre. Inside that I do a lot of facilitation of groups. So I do parenting groups. I’ve got a dad’s group. It’s called Just for Dads. It’s a group of dads that come together, and the Family Centre provides a space. We meet every Wednesday night, and we just pull dads into that space, and they shoot the breeze and have a bit of a chill-out, and if they’ve got any issues then we deal with it as a group.

I’ve been living in Tamaki for 30-odd years. I had a turn-around about 15, 16 years ago, and that’s when I really started working inside a community. I was a solo parent with a kid in primary school, and the principal up there offered me a job, because I was spending so much time there. I was a solo parent, so I was on the DPB, and she gave me an opportunity to work in the school.

Then I got involved in a whole lot of things in the community, and I suppose I just fell into these positions. Sometimes you go about looking for a career and you go to that career or it accidentally falls in your lap and you just take it. I think that’s what I’ve done; I just fell into this and I’ve become pretty good at it, and I enjoy it.

I like helping people out. I implemented some changes 15 years ago, and I’ve benefited from all those changes I made, and they were positive changes; giving up alcohol, drugs – all the things that people do, and just taking a different look at life. Sometimes I don’t think people get the chance to look at life from a different lens. We get too used to living life as what we’ve been living, and not knowing any other way. So, being a part of that and creating something like that has been really beneficial for that. I really enjoy helping people and seeing them make a change – a positive change.

If you can accept that somebody wakes up differently than what you do, and they may behave differently – if you can accept that, and still smile, that’s going to change how they feel. So, just to say good morning to someone as they walk past you; you’ve already made a positive change to them. I like to greet people in different languages; when I meet Tongans I like to say malo, and it suddenly changes how they perceive you. I think if we could all learn greetings in different languages, we’d be better off, and we’d make somebody else’s day. Sometimes it’s not about making your day; it’s about making someone else’s day. So, you’ve got malo lelei, which is Tongan. Bula; that’s Fijian. Talofa lava; that’s Samoan. Kia orana; that’s Cook Island. Kia ora; that’s Maori. Gidday; that’s Australian.”

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