Nancy | Ōtara

“I love being here [Ōtara]. I go all over Auckland, and everybody is still in the misconception that Ōtara’s like how it was back in the old days.

They’re too scared to come to Ōtara, because of its past history, and I keep saying to them, Ōtara’s not like that anymore. People are trying to make changes. People like us are trying to make changes. I’m all about working with youth at risk, and family crisis, and trying to get everybody involved, because it’s no sense in sitting behind your doors and saying, this person’s doing this, and those kids are doing that. It’s a community; get together. For the sake of everybody else, get together; talk and try and make changes. We are slowly but surely. Our Rangitāhi here, if you approach them and talk to them with respect, they do the same thing to you, but if you approach them with the, I’m the law, kind of thing, which is not really what you are, you’re going to put them on the back foot where they’re going to sit back and go, oh hang on hang on.

I go to meetings here, and it’s all about the community. I go, look when we talk about our rangitāhi why do we not have some of them here representing the rest, and tell us what they want, let us know what we can do to help them to get to where they want to be, on the right track, rather than going down the wrong track with drugs and gangs, and everything else? You know? I’m all about getting them on the right path.

I’ve actually felt like that [lonely]. I put myself in a little box once upon a time, where I thought I was the only person that could understand me, and I felt people were judging me a lot, and I felt nobody was there when I was reaching out for help, to the point where I ended up in Te Aho Mai mental ward in Middlemore. But after coming out of there and actually understanding what’s going on in my world, and not being afraid to reach out and ask the next person for help, I’ve started doing that, and while I’m doing that, I’m reaching out to others that need help, that are too scared to ask, because they think they’re going to be judged, and I know where they’re coming from when they think like that.

So, never be afraid to reach out. I attended a funeral not so long ago of a young boy who committed suicide, and all his school mates turned up at the funeral, and I went, right I’m going to have a talk to you fellas now; what’s happened to this boy here, we don’t ever want to see happen to you’s, so if you fellas are feeling really, really, really isolated and you feel you can’t talk to your family, talk to your mate. Unbeknownst to you, they probably understand what you’re going through, because they’re going through it but they’re too scared to talk.

And, by the time I finished sitting there talking to them, they all understood what I was saying. I says, I don’t ever want to come back to anything like this. You know, you fellas are young. You fellas have got things to do in your life. So, I says, if you fellas ever need someone to talk to, I’ll even give you fellas my number. If you feel you can’t talk to anybody else, ring me.”

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