Wayne finds new sense of purpose with Hei Whakapiki Mauri
Wayne’s journey with Hei Whakapiki Mauri began with finding a new whare and quickly evolved into becoming part of a whole new whānau.
Rheumatoid arthritis has taken its toll on Wayne in recent years and after leaving his long-time role in distribution, he found himself living in a make-shift home in a garage with no insulation, hot water or much in the way of cooking facilities.
He says that the pain, along with the isolation and his living situation, took a big toll on his mental and physical health and he was in a rather dark place.
“I was really down and depressed. A lot of things had led me to that place. I couldn’t work anymore and that had always been a big part of my life. I was trying to box on with the arthritis while living in this concrete garage. There was dew coming down the inside of the walls!
My mates could see I was struggling - especially after waiting on Housing New Zealand for more than a year - and one of them told me about Hei Whakapiki Mauri and I got in touch for help with my whare,” he says.
With the support of Whānau Ora Navigator Waikura, Wayne shifted into a warm and dry unit just six weeks after making contact with Hei Whakapiki Mauri. He says his health has improved remarkably since the move and he’s starting to think about his future in a positive way for the first time in a long time. He has also renewed his interest in discovering more about his whānau and whakapapa.
“Now that I am feeling better, I want to save up and travel to where my whānau come from. I’ve been looking back into my Māori heritage lately and we have land on Rakiura (Stewart Island). I’d like to have a look around there and see where my ancestors lived.”
Wayne wasn’t told much about his whānau as a young man. Born in Auckland, he spent much of his childhood in foster homes and sought to reconnect with his mother, two sisters and four brothers by following whānau down to Ōtautahi in his late teens.
His working life began building pylons around the country for New Zealand Electricity, where he discovered his love for the outdoors through experiencing the scenery Aotearoa has to offer. After 17 years in the industry, his career was put to an end with a severe injury to his hand in the workplace and he says he went through a difficult time, losing his partner and home in the process.
“After all that, I returned to Christchurch to be nearer to whānau and spent some time learning more about my whakapapa by living in Pigeon Bay, where my great, great grandmother met her husband - a whaler. She had 14 children!”
An industry change saw Wayne complete his Heavy Traffic licence and become a truck driver, eventually entering his long-time role in distribution for Meadow Fresh on the outskirts of Ōtautahi.
When his arthritis made work too difficult, Wayne became disconnected from his colleagues, mates and his whānau, and he says that it wasn’t until he found Hei Whakapiki Mauri that he started to come out of his shell again.
“Finding this whānau has given me a mission, something to do and something to live for. I have a role and I can be part of something. So much has come from moving from my old situation into this new whare and connecting with new people,” he says.
Wayne was invited to Hei Whakapiki Mauri’s recent Marae Noho and says he was greeted like a long-lost brother.
“They’re such warm people and when I arrived at the marae the welcome I got was unbelievable. I then went straight down to the moana to sit by the water, something I haven’t had the opportunity to do for many years.
Being part of this has really opened my eyes and inside myself I just feel so much better. My head is on straighter and I’m looking forward to getting out even more and being more involved. I feel it’s like I’ve come home.”
Looking ahead, Wayne says he would like to make the most of his reignited passion for travelling by visiting some of his favourite places across Aotearoa. After Stewart Island, Kaikōura and Marlborough are next on the list. He’s also looking forward to spending more time with his nearby sister and her whānau, and visiting his brothers.