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Council programme leads to a better life for two single mothers

Published: 14 August 2019

Starting full time work at Auckland Council for the first time has been a game changer for two single mothers in south Auckland.

“The lifestyle my son and I now live has improved greatly,” Mapa Tukuafa says.

“Before we use to live with my parents in a [New Zealand] housing home and now we are living independently in a private rented home.

“Financially there’s a huge difference and I’m more capable of doing activities with my son.”

Mapa, 24, is one of 42 Kia Puāwai programme participants who have started working at Auckland Council’s contact centre, since completing the programme.

Delivered by the council’s Customer Services department, the Manukau Office of MSD and Māori training provider the Solomon Group, the programme is designed to improve employment outcomes in South Auckland by bringing unemployed local people into the council's contact centre workforce. 

For Mapa, the opportunity has opened more doors and improved her living situation for herself and her five-year-old son Kali.

Being a positive role model for her son is important.

“I made a pact with myself that I would be that someone he could look up to.”

The last five years have not been easy for Mapa, who was forced to drop out of Auckland University due to a heart condition.

“I was studying corporate law at university, but two weeks before my exams I had to have emergency heart surgery.”

On the advice of her cardiologist, she took the next year off.

“I then had my son and my focus was on raising him.”

Amanda Clark, 34, started at the council contact centre 15 months ago after living off a benefit since falling pregnant as a teenager.

“Staying at home to raise my kids was ok at first, but then I was forced to go on a benefit.”

Amanda says the turning point for her was when WINZ suggested she take part in the Kia Puāwai programme.

She had dabbled in a few online courses but says they never led to anything.

She says finding a job wasn’t from a lack of trying, with constant rejection knocking her confidence.

“I would just cry that I wasn’t good enough for any job.”

With no close family support, Amanda says being unemployed and a single mother to teenagers Monique and Jacob was “tough going”.

Now she is thriving, with new-found confidence and higher self-esteem. She says her children are proud of their “working mum”.

“I’m more independent and working allows me to set goals for myself.”

One of Amanda’s goals is to take her children on holiday to Rotorua.

“Growing up I was always promised we’d go there, but it never happened. So, this holiday is more for me,” she smiles.

Both women acknowledge the support they’ve received from the Solomon Group, WINZ and the council.

With a goal of one day becoming a team leader, Amanda is currently training new recruits.

“We’re upskilling while working and in a very supportive environment,” Amanda says.

Programme facts:

  • 67 people have been through the programme with 46 people being employed (a 68 per cent achievement rate) since the programme began 18 months ago
  • 42 achieved employment with Auckland Council, and four people were successful in finding work outside of the council.
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