Kiri Epapara has always been a kaiāwhina, caring for the health and wellbeing of her whānau.
Whether taking her kuia out to enjoy a quick flutter on the pokies, having a cuppa and listening, supporting her mother through cancer, or having many whangai children in her care at various stages of their lives . . . Kiri loves making a difference.
With these life skills, she’s also built a rewarding career.
“It’s always been part of my life. I am just doing what I am meant to do,” says Kiri, who has been working as a Māori Community Lifeskills Facilitator at St Chad’s, supporting people with disabilities.
“I love giving our people opportunities to be empowered, to be independent and achieve their goals and aspirations. You feel so rewarded because someone else is happy.”
Working as a carer also means everyday offers new experiences, active, packed with opportunities for connection, fun, and fulfilment.
“Every day is different. It’s about teaching our people how to live independently, how to catch a bus, to cook a meal, to think about their fitness and health, to do kapa haka, tikanga Māori.
“You feel so fulfilled when you see that you’ve done something to empower or encourage them. It’s a sense of wow. That’s when I know I’m doing a good job.”
For Kiri, running a home, study and with many sports training and commitments, another bonus is that her employers have always been willing to accommodate her needs with flexible hours.
Ultimately, Kiri wants to see more Māori and Pasifika males discover the life changing potential of working in care and support – for themselves and others.
“We need more of our Māori and Pasifika men to come and learn to support our people with disabilities and to break down barriers.
“It’s a powerful, rewarding and learning role and I believe it will give our men a real purpose and value in life. I also believe our men have a deep and unknown understanding of how to care and empower. This will allow them to connect with that.”
Many employers will support on-the-job training where you’ll have the opportunity to earn as you learn, get practical skills and work towards achieving a nationally recognised qualification without taking on a student loan.
Check out these sites to find the right job for you!