I went to Manurewa West. I was a leader, a school counsellor and I loved it. I loved having all the responsibility. It wasn’t much but it felt like a lot. I was kind of a teacher’s pet. I really liked that. When I was nine, my mum was going back to university and she always pushed education.
In intermediate, I went into like a different crowd of people and I wasn’t too focused on school. I was in a majority Maori class and we just focused less on learning and more on tikanga Maori and then I just went off. I started doing like bad things. Just like mucking around, just not focusing.
In Year 9, I really wanted to go to my mainstream school, Manurewa High, because all my friends from intermediate went there. My mum wouldn’t let me because she wanted a better education. She said, ‘No, you go to AGGS’. Like I think she could tell that I was not focused on task at school.
So I went to Auckland Girls. And I like totally went off. I was wagging every day. I just started hanging out with friends and not focusing on school. And when I tried focusing on school I was too behind. And I found it really difficult.
It would usually be, we would catch the train to school, and then we’d go have breakfast, and then we’d get to school at around like 9:30am when it started at 8:40am, and then we’d go to our class and we’d just sit there and like not really do any work and then we’d go have lunch. And then we’d probably leave after lunch. I would always wag Māori and english and sometimes maths and sometimes science.
I almost got expelled twice. We went and had a group discussion about how truancy was wrong. I understood why my mum sent me to that school. She like explained it all and I understood it was a better decile system. And they just had a real good reputation. I understood it. I just didn’t care.
Then about the end of Year 10 I got really focused back into school and I fell in love with history. My teacher was just really charismatic. Like I felt like every time I went to class I really enjoyed it even though it was history and we had to write heaps. So he like pulled me back in and I got back into school.
And then the next year I fell pregnant. I like separated myself, made completely new friends, and just focused on school completely. I was behind at the beginning. But then after I started fully zoning in in class, it really clicked and I fell in love with all my subjects, pretty much.
I was dating my partner for about three months so we weren’t long together and we weren’t serious. It just happened. And I didn’t tell anyone until I was about five months, like not even my parents.
I took a pregnancy test. It was the first time we had unprotected sex. And I was like, ‘Okay, what’s the chance of it happening’. And then, yeah, my period didn’t come so I was like, ‘Okay’. I found out at like four weeks so it was quite, yeah.
I went to family planning, to make sure everything was thing. And they gave me all my options. And I was like, ‘Okay’, went home, told my really good friend and then told another really good friend. And then the outcome wasn’t good. Like they pushed me away cause I was a bad person for falling pregnant. So after that I didn’t tell anyone.
I tried to tell my mum until I was three months. Like I tried to tell her like every day. I planned to do it and then I was like, ‘Okay this is the day I’m going to do it’, and then it just never happened and then at three months I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’m not going to terminate it’, so I just kept it a secret. And then my stomach just kept growing and she asked me. And I was like, ‘Okay, yup, its true’.
They were really supportive. Like everyone was just really supportive cause I couldn’t terminate so they were just like, ‘Okay, so we’re going to have a baby in the household, and we have to plan, and we have to get everything ready’. It was like their first biological grandchild. So they were like, ‘Yup. I’m excited’. There was nothing they could have done anyway.
The first three months of being a mother I was like, ‘Okay, this is freaking me out’. It was quite boring and I just sat around all day and it was like sad cause I got to see everyone out there doing stuff and my baby just slept all day. And I’d just sit there and just breastfeed him. But now that he’s running around he’s just so full of joy. He’s got such a cheeky personality and it’s just so much fun.
Like I’m a spiritual person and I usually go to get my tarot cards done quite regularly. And she said that Carter saved me from going off a path. She said that before I fell pregnant that I was going off a path, not going anywhere, and now my path is just straight and I’m going to have a future.
My dad always said to me growing up that you can’t start a ladder from the top. So that’s always been at the back of my mind. I cared about the future before I got pregnant but I didn’t know what the future was. Now I have a set goal and I’m like moving towards it every day. But right now, I’m proud of just making it this far without losing my marbles, pretty much.
Right now, I’m struggling with my commitment to school. My partner’s birthday is coming up so I made him a card. Just little things like that are distracting me as I’m doing my work.
I’ve like still got my heart set on law, but since my rank score’s not high I wouldn’t be able to get into it straight away, so I want to do a Bachelor of Arts, and then pick up side subjects around it.
My biggest fear is falling behind and then getting nowhere. And then I’m in like a minimum wage job and just forgetting everything that I worked hard for.
At the beginning of this year I left the teen parent unit. But I was four credits short for the prerequisite for the certificate of business. That’s another pathway into law. I still had my heart set on law, but my rank score wasn’t high enough.
So I went to this programme, ‘Uni-prep’. It’s a summer school that you do just before the tertiary year starts. It’s for year 13s. It helps you with the mindset you need. Just being surrounded by people my age having the determination to get to uni, and seeing them getting stuck into their uni work, and me not able to do that, I was like, ‘I’m definitely going’. I knew then that the end game was me going to university. I decided no matter how I do it, I’m going to get qualified.
I set out what I needed to get my university entrance, and then I looked at other places, and made the decision to come back to the teen parent unit. They have the support and they’re flexible because I’m a mother.
Now I’ve got my university entrance. I’m definitely going to university next year. I’m working on getting up my rank score so I have a choice of which university I want to go to. I definitely want to do Bachelor of Law. Just seeing the stats for Maori in prison and Maori teen parents makes me want to do it. When you go past WINZ in Clendon every morning you just see brown faces. I want to better myself to make change for myself and my family, but long-term for my people and my culture.