Whanau Ora: Patrick Hutana

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Your Stories
June 12, 2023

Homeless, living in my car, begging and borrowing became my way of life until Nga Kete and the Australian Chinchilla Community Centre stepped in and turned it all around.

Four years ago my Mum and I moved to Australia for a fresh start.

Things over there were good for a while. Mum was living with my ex-wife on a farm and I was living elsewhere and working with young people. I really enjoyed my job but when COVID hit in 2020 it ruined everything.

I lost my job, which left me with no where to live. I had no income and, being a New Zealand citizen, I was not entitled to any support through the Australian Government.

I started living in my car in a parking lot outside the Chinchilla Community Centre. The staff were wonderful and would offer me a hot meal and a shower every day.

I begged or borrowed, mowed lawns, and cleaned bathrooms just for a meal. I don’t know how I survived to be honest. I had absolutely no where to go – no friends or family support. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my Mum what was going on because she was unwell.

I eventually got a job driving a harvester but I still couldn’t find anywhere to live. I continued to live in my car for about a year and a half, and during this time I became suicidal and depressed.

The staff at the community centre would watch me head back to my car every night and they desperately wanted to help me. They thought it would be best if I was back home where I could receive Government support and get back on my feet.

They started researching who could support me in Invercargill and they found Nga Kete online.

They contacted the Whanau Ora service and a plan was made to get me back home.

Before I arrived back in Invercargill, Nga Kete had already found me shared accommodation housing, set up a bank account (as I didn’t have one), and had organised with Work and Income to cover the cost of board for three weeks in advance.

The navigator supported me in obtaining a Jobseekers benefit, enrolled me with He Puna Waiora Wellness Centre and on-referred me to the Tōku Oranga Health Coach and Mahana Southern Māori Mental Health and Addiction Service. I was also supplied with a food parcel.

The support from the navigator and the Chincilla Community Centre has meant everything to me. I can’t thank them enough. I feel blessed.

I’ve got money in my bank account now and I have a goals plan, which was created with the navigator. I am going to attend the Southern Institute of Technology and get a bar managers license, I will also save up enough money to get my own house and bring my Mum home.

I would never have come this far without the support I have received. If it wasn’t for the community Centre and Nga Kete, I would still be living in my car struggling to get by.

Now, I have so much to look forward to.

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