Report – By Jessi Mee
A young social worker claims a community trust on Manurewa Marae turned her life around and inspired her to help others caught in a cycle of violence and abuse.
Nicole Coromandel (Ngati Whanaunga), 24, says Te Whakaora Tangata changed her life with its family-oriented approach.
“They’ve given me hope for a better way,” she says.
“What they provide is something different from what other social services provide, because they focus on the family.”
Cliffy and Indranee Reddy, who moved from South Africa ten years ago, established the Te Whakaora Tangata Trust in 2010.
The trust, based on Manurewa Marae, allows Cliffy and Indranee and their three staff to work with families in the Clendon community, one of Auckland’s most disadvantaged communities.
Clendon, often referred to as the “new Otara” is known for its cycles of domestic assault, drug abuse and gang violence.
Indranee Reddy says they saw so much need in the community.
“It was people going through cycles of dysfunction. What the parents were doing you could see the kids doing it too. The cycle repeated itself,” she says.
Nicole says her case is not an isolated one.
“My story might be my story, but it’s a story of many in my community,” she says.
“I love the work that they do because they are a blessing to people in my hood.”
She says Te Whakaora Tangata’s approach is about seeing the bigger picture, not just the individual.
“That’s why I love the name (Te Whakaora Tangata) it means life restoration for the people.”
That is exactly what Indranee and Cliffy had in mind for the people of Clendon, which has an 80 percent Maori and 20 percent Pacific demographic.
“We’ve always had a compassionate heart for people. It isn’t something that we’ve just found in Clendon, it’s been our heartbeat for many years,” she says.
Whilst the work is emotionally taxing she says it is “absolutely rewarding”.
“You definitely get fulfilment being able to see the change in somebody,” she says.
Reddy says people come to see them when they are at breaking point.
“They see no hope. It’s meeting someone at the point of the need,” she says.
“People come to us at their lowest point. They come to us when they really want to change.”
She says they are able to develop trust with the people in the community because they love the people just as they are.
“It sounds so cliché but they see genuine love,” she says.
“We don’t charge for our services, we aren’t restricted by time and time spells love for many people.”
“Money is not always the problem – the government does not have all the answers. The answers lie within the community,” she says.
“The success of our work is loving people where they are at and embracing who they are. We are able love people and show them that there is still hope for the future. That is what makes the change in people’s lives.”
Manurewa Marae manager Mary-Ann Harris (Ngapuhi) says the work Cliffy and Indranee do is helping to transform the lives of families in the community.
“I think what Cliffy and Indranee do is a great thing. They play an important part in our community,” she says.
“They have a passion that is very hard to come by – you don’t find it in just anybody.”
Mary-Ann says Cliffy and Indranee share the marae’s vision of addressing root causes of issues.
“Our belief is that if we can heal the family, and find the issues within, then that whole family can be healed and the individuals have a much stronger support unit.”
“They fit very nicely into the marae because the marae is about holistic wellbeing for the community,” she says.
‘Many’ success stories
She says Cliffy and Indranee are driven by their faith and utilise their own life experiences.
“They don’t preach to people. They open the doors and allow you to want to share,” she says.
“They have the ability to make people move forward and break down barriers that they’ve had there for years.”
She says there are many success stories, including Nicole’s.
“It’s a big turnaround, she has gone full circle,” she says.
“She now has the passion to use the memories of her past, to help other children.”
Nicole, who now works for Te Whakaora Tangata, says she has the same passion to help others.
“It’s always been inside me, but I just didn’t know how I would help my people. By Cliffy and Indranee giving me employment it has opened up an avenue for me to be able to reach out and help the people,” she says.
Jessi Mee is a final year journalism major student on the Bachelor of Communication Studies programme at AUT University.