Tony | Avondale

“I’m Tony and I come from Avondale. I think one of my biggest accomplishments was a couple of years ago our house got sold, and we became homeless. We spent one night in the car, but we were the first family that spent a couple of nights at Te Puea Marae, and within eight days we got a Housing New Zealand home.

So, that was a good accomplishment and I think I accomplished that because I just worked at trying to establish a new home for me and my family. So, I contacted heaps of homeless organisations around Auckland, and I spoke to Work and Income and you know, the result was, we got a house in eight days. I was quite proud of that, and I actually ended up on the front page of the Herald as well. 

Growing up in Australia, I was born in an area called East Brunswick, and it’s the next suburb to Coburg where it’s well known for Pentridge Prison. When I was born my father was in prison, and when he got out of jail, he gapped it, so I’ve never met my father. My mum was going through a hard time, because as a solo mum in the ‘60s she got a lot of pressure, and the unfortunate thing is, when she gave birth to my sister she ended up adopting my sister out, because she was just getting so much drama, but me growing up, I spent time with my mum, my uncle, my grandmother, but the main family association was motorcycle clubs. So I was brought up around motorcycles and all the things that were involved with that, with clubs, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, stuff like that. So, all that stuff was put before me when I was still a young child. I developed an interest in motorcycling, but it also taught me independence, and I’ve also learned to cope with things. Like if a situation becomes really difficult for me, I just don’t sit down in a corner and cry about it, I stand up and I pay attention to it and I respond, and I’ll talk to anyone that’s necessary. I have developed, from being an introverted person to quite an out-there person. But I have also learned that there’s fairness. You can’t look at anyone from just one side and judge them by that. You have to actually find out the reality. I’m quite a deep thinker, but I’ll help people, and I’ll seek help if I need it.

At the moment I’m on a sickness benefit, and I’m stuck in a State home, so I don’t have much money, but I’ve worked hard at always paying bills. Always pay bills, and within the community, we’ve helped Feed the Streets. We’ve helped cook food on Feed the Streets. My partner and I have done volunteer work for the Salvation Army, and we understand that sometimes when your income’s not too great, being open-minded and seeking help from community places can be really helpful because me and my partner we have no outstanding bills. Our power bills always paid. There’s always food in the cupboard and we’re ready to associate with Feed the Streets, Ignite Foodbank, the Hope Centre. There are so many charitable organisations around, and people think that West-side’s got a bad side to it. I think West Auckland’s quite good. I consider West Auckland and just the social atmosphere is quite connective. There’s a lot of people from different cultures, different races, different upbringings that associate together.

Now as a grandfather, my oldest daughter had a child last year, so I’ve become a grandfather, and I have eight children, and I’m fully in the effort of making my children have a good life, and I’m prepared to compromise, and if it comes to my children, they come first, to me. My children, my partner, they are very important to me, and my youngest daughter’s 10 weeks old, so that’s really encouraging to me. I’m just happy as a parent. That’s what I am. I’m a parent, and my children are what I work for.”

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