For more than 20 years Taiki Kennedy was a social worker servicing clients, many of whom she was related to, throughout the Tairāwhiti.
But she also wore many other hats.
“I was a social worker working from Ūawa (Tolaga Bay) right up to Pōtikirua, but I was also a youth counsellor and I worked in mental health. Pretty much when you’re up the coast you’re everything,” says Taiki (Te Whānau ā Ruataupare, Umuariki, Te Whānau a Takimoana, Te Whānau ā Te Uruahi)
“I was also a mum, a nanny, a pāpā, you’re the counsellor, the social worker, the teacher, the nurse – you’re flipping your hat every five minutes because you’re it, their only support.”
Taiki, a graduate of the Bachelor of Bicultural Social Work, brings this experience which she says was “a lot of hard work” into her mahi as kaiako of the Manaaki Tangata, Certificate in Bicultural Social Services at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Gisborne.
The program is for people considering social services as a career, making a difference in their whānau, hapu, iwi and hāpori - using a kaupapa Māori framework to guide them in their practice.
“It’s all around behaviour and how do you interact with people and how do you maintain their mana, their mauri and your own integrity and tino rangatiratanga (self governance),” says Taiki.
“It’s about relationships, how do you form them and how do you maintain them?”
Taiki’s big on lived experiences and believes all tauira (students) who are new to the programme have their own that can benefit others.
“If you have a passion about people and about pathwaying them into wellbeing and you care about your environment then this is the programme you should consider.”
“In the programme you’re empowering yourself for change, but you’re empowering others, your whānau, your hapū (sub tribe), your iwi (people) and your hāpori (community).”