I used to be a Youth Leader and working with young people opened me up to a lot of things happening in their world. I realised a lot of them didn’t have anyone to talk to, and that was my drive to study social work.
One of my favourite things is journeying with someone and seeing their growth. The most beautiful thing is when they’ve come out of a really dark space and they’re this new person – they start to realise their own mana that they’ve always had.
My reward at the end my day is seeing my whaiora (clients) walk taller, knowing I’ve helped someone see their own growth and potential.
One of my cousins introduced me. She told me I would be able to get a lot of support at Whitireia which was really important to me – I had been out of school for a few years before I studied, and I couldn’t remember how to write an essay or even how to start it. The Student Support team in the library sat down with me, reminded me to breathe, and talked it through really clearly.
But also just life as well; I was looking for a place that would offer me the awhi and tautoko (support) that I needed. Whitireia was the right place.
It was more of a holistic approach. I lost my dad in my first year of studying, and the people at Whitireia helped me get through it. They really knew how to support and encourage me in all areas – mentally, emotionally and physically.
Whitireia taught me you don’t have be a certain person to be able to study. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’ve been through. Everyone and anyone can study.
We learned how to do tikanga Māori protocols, how to work in the communities. We learned lots about psychology, human development, sociology and policy. It gave me a lot of tools in my kete (kit) around theories, concepts, approaches that I apply in my practice.
But the biggest learning for me was ko wai ahau (who I am) and my identity. I learned a lot about who I am, as Māori, as Samoan, as a wāhine in Aotearoa.
I did my final placement at Wellington HELP while I was still studying. That’s what I love about Whitireia – you're able to go out and do the hands-on work while you’re still a student at an organisation of your choice.
After my placement, Wellington HELP offered me a job! I’ll always be really grateful for that experience.
If you believe in tautua which is Samoan for ‘service’. If you are a person that serves and loves to help people, whether that be your community, your family, the people you love or just anyone, then social work is for you.
Studying social work has opened so many doors for me.
Tui is a Social Worker at Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation (Wellington HELP) working with sexual abuse survivors and whānau on their journey to wellbeing. Her mahi includes both therapeutic and practical support.
Learn more about Wellington HELP here