I didn’t really have any dreams when I was young. Like I didn’t know what I was into. School was just like a getaway from home. Family problems. Everything at home was hard. I just found school as like a way to hang around with my friends, act cool, be tough.
I got into a lot of fights. I backed up most of my friends and that got me in trouble. I was just that type. When someone said, ‘Go fight’, I’d go fight. If someone said to, ‘Go do this’, I’d go do it. I was more like a person that listened to everyone, thinking it was good for me.
I didn’t want to lose my friends, so I’d just do what they asked me to do before they’d backstab me and go find new ones. And then I’d be left with no friends.
I grew up in Otara. I’ve been with my grandparents ever since I was two months, staying with them.
At first I liked learning. But I grew up around all my brothers. And like I grew up seeing them not wanting to go to school. Just mucking around. And then I was like thinking I could be like my brothers. I could get a good job just if I be like them. But then I was realising that what I did when I was younger wasn’t right.
My older brother, he’s like a step-brother. He didn’t really go to school. He was more getting into gang related stuff. And I thought it was like cool. Cause my mum’s background was, she came from a family that was involved in gangs and everything. And then she changed her life around when she had my little other brothers and sisters.
The whole of Year 9, I was just straight naughty. I didn’t care about school. I was just naughty, naughty, naughty. They would complain to my dad, my dad would talk to me, and I’d just go back to school the next day and do the same thing.
My grandad’s a minister. He doesn’t want us to like fail at anything because the other families will talk about us. Saying, ‘Oh that minister’s granddaughter’s not good. She went and had a baby blah blah blah’. You know all this kind of stuff. So yeah we had to keep a high standard cause my grandparents play a big role in our church. And everyone looks up to us. They expect us to be good at school and things like that. It was a lot of pressure for me. Cause I had to keep my family happy but then it was hard to keep myself happy. It was like I was losing myself in the process.
But in the middle of Year 10, that’s when I changed my lifestyle around. I got more into sports, got involved in cultural groups. And that’s what got me back on track. I used my grandparents as a motivation for me to push hard. Get back into school, and try harder to pass all levels and everything. Because if I didn’t I knew I would let them down.
Then one night I went out to this party. And that’s where it all happened. It’s just a night that I regretted. But then I didn’t really think of going to get a test, because I was like, ‘Nah, I’m still getting regular periods and everything’, so I was like, ‘Nah, I’m fine’.
I just went back to school and carried on. Then I joined the touch team. And our touch coach realised that I was carrying. And she pulled me out of our last game and she asked me if I was pregnant and I said, ‘No, I’m not’. And she’s like, ‘Oh, okay’.
My friends like clicked onto that I was pregnant but I had no idea. But they like noticed that I was growing in my stomach. My friend asked me if I wanted to go to a counsellor. And I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not pregnant, just leave me alone’. And they were like, ‘Okay’. But then one of the girls went to the counsellor without me knowing. And they called me in. We went to the nurse’s room to take a pregnancy test. Then I found out I was pregnant. The next day we went to get a scan to see how far along I was into my pregnancy. I was four to five months. That’s when I found out I was having a boy. I was like overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to think. And I didn’t know what to tell my family. I was really panicking. I was just shocked.
They told me that I can’t get rid of the baby. So I was like, ‘Okay’. They asked me if I was thinking of it but I was like, ‘No. I know I’m young, but I can’t let go of a baby that’s in me. And then I went back to school. I had to find a way to tell my parents and family. I then had to think of putting school on hold.
First, I just told my mum, cause she understood how I was. I go, ‘Mum, I’m pregnant. Don’t tell my dad or anyone just yet. I need time to myself to think about it and then I’ll tell him’. We kept it from my Tongan side for like two weeks. And then my mum got into a little argument with my dad and then she just blurted it out. I was like, ‘Oh man’. Yeah that’s how the family found out. My dad came and talked to me. All he wanted to do was just get his hands on my son’s father. And I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t know where he stays’. Everything just went up and down from then on.
It was shameful for grandad. But they couldn’t do anything about it so they had to live with it. It really destroyed me inside cause I know that I didn’t live up to what they expected of me and stuff.
The first time I tried to get out in public with my son I was really, like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to go here. I don’t want to go there’. Cause people are going to be like, ‘Ah, look at that girl. She’s got a baby and she’s young’. So that was a big challenge for me to get over. I had to get through that by myself.
And when I went to church the first time with my son, I just had heaps of ladies who were speaking to each other and looking. And I turn around and I say, ‘Do youse have a problem with me and my baby?’ And then they go, ‘No’. And I go, ‘Then why you guys talking about me?’ And they go, ‘But you’re so young’. And I go, ‘Just because I’m young, it doesn’t mean that I’m not able to look after my son’, and then yeah, they got over it. And then I got over the fear of not wanting to go out.
I cut my son’s father out cause I made him choose between me and baby and his gang life. He chose his gang life. So I said then I’m not going to have that in my son’s life. It’s either you stay or you go. And he went. He tried coming back and I said, ‘No’. But yeah. He’s the past.
I stopped going to school cause my family said not to because I’m carrying. So I stayed home. And then when baby was three months my family was telling me to go back to school. So I went back to school part time just to get back into the routine. But that didn’t work out. Cause I was just not focusing. I was just thinking more of baby and wanted to get home. So I kept on walking out of school. I went and stayed at the park and then I’d walk back to school to get picked up.
My cousin told my family what I was doing, walking out of school and coming back. My family thought I was with another guy and everything like that. They gave me a hard time about it. I was just not myself then. Like, I still had to rebuild my life back up knowing that I was a mum. I had to let go of all the regrets and all the problems I had before. And just carry on with life with baby.
For the past year, being a mother, I tell ya, was one of the biggest challenges of my life. Like I had people talking about me, saying that I couldn’t do it. But then I proved them wrong. And I’m back at school trying to start a better future. Especially for my son. Motherhood’s been good.
I’m at the teen parent unit now. I’m thinking of getting back into sports. Doing something like personal trainer or a coach for sport or something like that. That’s what I’m trying to get. I want to achieve my NCEA level 1 and 2, at least those two. And try work into my level 3.
Having a baby doesn’t stop you from what you want to accomplish, it’s just going to make you work twice as hard to achieve what you want. Having a baby was a challenge for me but in a good way. He pushed me to go straight for what I wanted and do better than what I was before.
There’s a lot more for me to learn as a parent. I think I’ve got the basics on lock. But I know there’s a lot more to learn. And that’s what this school is for. Learning how to parent and how to get back on school and everything. Gave me a second chance.
I felt as if I let my family down, and put a big shame on their name. But yeah I pushed through it. We still have people talking about it. But I just don’t worry about it. Cause it’s words, and words don’t mean a thing to me anymore. Back then when people said, ‘You’re this, you’re that', I would go up and fight them. But now I’m like, ‘They can say what they want. I’m just going to focus on my schooling and my son. And that’s it’.
I want my son to grow up differently, instead of going down my path, what I went through. I want him to have a better life than I did. I want him to know that going to school, listening and doing well is more important than what you want to do.
I’m going to try and get a good job, support my family, and support my son. Nothing can hold me and my son back no more.